Composition Spotlight: Carmen fratrum Arvalium
Date: September 1, 2013
COMPOSITION SPOTLIGHT ~ by Jack Senzig
(Each week we look at one or two of the best choral works posted in the Composition Showcase here on ChoralNet. This is where we store a treasure trove of works that your choirs will love to sing and your audiences will love to hear.)
Level: Advanced Children’s Choir or higher
Uses: General Concert Use
Program Themes: Skyrim and other Nordic Music
This Piece Would Program Well With: Dragonborn from MusicNotes (choose a lower key)
Conductors always have favorite composers they like to program. One of mine is Hildigunnur Rúnarsdóttir. She is an Icelandic composer, which for me conjures up stories of trolls at Christmas time and other exotic images. (See “The Singing Sack”) Her Guðbrandsmessa (Gudbrandur Mass) is a regular on my playlist. Her music has a magical power that grabs hold of me and shakes me into wide-eyed awe. Carmen fratrum Arvalium has that power.
This is no church Latin you are used to. It is an ancient pagan prayer. Here's a translation:
"Lasas assist us, Lasas delight us, Lasas come to our aid! Neither plague nor ruin, Marmor, allow to be visited on us. But if however we are invaded, like Mars we shall leap across our borders To sate you with the blood of our enemies and stay the barbarians. Marmor assist us, Marmor defend us, Marmor come to our aid. Triumph, triumph, triumph, triumph, triumph!"
Below are two performances posted on YouTube. One is of a children’s choir and the other a women’s choir. The difference in timbre would make an interesting lesson for your singers. Share the videos when you rehearse this powerful piece with them.