James Dillon: Stabat mater

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK

Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival is an annual, international festival of contemporary and new music lasting 10 days and consisting of approximately 50 events, including concerts, music theater, dance, multi-media, talks and film, with a related Learning and Participation program devised and implemented to reflect the artistic program and respond to regional needs. The HCMF aims to provide life-changing and unique artistic experiences to as wide an audience as possible; to be an international platform for new music and related contemporary art forms in Britain; to enthuse existing audiences, draw in new ones through adventurous programming and informed, stylish presentation and to be an active cultural partner within the region.
James Dillon is a major figure in contemporary British composition. He was commissioned to write a “Stabat mater” for the HCMF for conductor, ensemble, choir and electronics. The work sets the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, a poem that meditates on Mary’s sorrows, at the foot of the cross. 
Attributed to the 13th century Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi this poem lies at the heart of the later so-called Marian cults. This principal text is expanded with a number of other ‘inserts’; texts including excerpts from the radical French writer Julia Kristeva’s essay on the Stabat Mater, Rainer Maria Rilke’s early ‘Visions of Christ’, John Donne’s ‘A Valediction’ and excerpts from a letter to Picasso from his mother (in May 1937 Picasso's mother wrote to him from Barcelona that smoke from the burning city during the fighting made her eyes water). Scored for choir and an ensemble of nine players the work will divide into seven movements. 

November 21, 2014
Huddersfield Town Hall 

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