Classical music can be kind of backwards sometimes. We have centuries of phenomenal music to listen to and perform, but it’s easy to stick with well-known music. People like what they know. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s good to dig around the edges and explore, too. Who knows what will be standard repertoire in 50 years? Or in 400? What, if anything, will stand the test of time (like Beethoven’s 5th) or go away and get rediscovered (like J.S. Bach, amazingly).
I’ve had the chance to hear some great music by modern (meaning still alive) choral composers recently, the latest being at last week’s Phoenix Chamber Choir concert in Vancouver. Here’s a recording of this choir singing a piece called Lux Aeterna by a composer I hadn’t heard before, Ivo Antognini. It’s beautiful all the way through, but the last chord is what got me. In a tribute to his parents, the composer spells out their names in musical notes to create an eerie, shimmering sound. I think it’s a pretty great moment.