At our Advent 4 service this year (11am, December 19) we’ll be singing a Magnificat, as this is set in the lectionary for this day (Luke 1:46-55). While we’ve sung many Magnificats at our Evensongs throughout the year, on this occasion we’ll be singing a new setting, by Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977).
Ešenvalds is a prolific composer, with a heavy schedule of commission writing. He has written a great deal of music for a capella choirs, but also for accompanied choirs, as well as some orchestral works, and an opera. From 2002 to 2011 he sang as a member of the State Choir Latvija, and from 2011 to 2013 he was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge. He currently teaches composition at the Latvian Academy of Music.
The Magnificat that we’ll be singing, along with its accompanying Nunc dimittis, was commissioned in 2013 by Merton College Oxford, on the occasion of the College’s 750th anniversary. We’ll be singing the Mag and Nunc together in 2022 in one of our Evensong services.
One of Ešenvalds’ most famous works is ‘Stars’ for choir and tuned water glasses. The accompanying YouTube video captures the world premiere performance of this amazing work by the commissioning ensemble, the Salt Lake Vocal Artists.