Creating a contemplative space: Hush by David Lancaster

To mark today's birthday of composer David Lancaster, a brief look at the gently undulating setting, Hush,  a mesmerising reflection on the implications of Baba Ram Dass' famous saying 'The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.' Lancaster draws out the contemplative state implied by the text in an appropriately hushed choral piece, which induces a suitably meditative state created by repetition. The piece suddenly blossoms as it reaches the second part phrase, unfurling some evocative colours.

Lancaster employs an antiphonal handling of the choral texture, with tenors and basses in a dialogue with sopranos and altos. Cascading lines lead off from the sopranos, creating lambent harmonic clouds, before the voices gradually subside, leaving a cluster-chord in the upper voices over the lower voices' slow fading away, still clinging to their initial phrase.

The harmonic vocabulary is richly colourful, reminiscent perhaps of Tarik O'Regan or Eric Whitacre, and undoubtedly sounds astonishing in a resonant (but not necessarily ecclesiastical) space.

Listen for yourself on SoundCloud here. And happy birthday, David Lancaster.

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