YOUTH ORATORIO

I was approached by Rita van den Heever from the University of Johannesburg who commissioned me to compose an Oratorio for the renowned UJ Choir under the experienced direction of Renette Bouwer. The idea of a Youth Oratorio was put forward which inspired me immensely and the initial ideas began to germinate.

The musical narrative traces the journey of a young life from the joyous welcoming of a new soul, the dependency of infancy, the beauty and innocence of childhood, the awakening and anguish of the early teen, the rite of passage and passion of Youth and the young adult ready to conquer the world and embrace the vast treasures of life.

My greatest challenge was to identify the most appropriate texts for the musical concept I had in mind. After a lengthy search, I came to the conclusion that my compositional ideas could not essentially be served by existing poetry. Although some of the ‘libretto’ or lyrics are drawn from selected sources, for example a poem by William Blake and quotes on ‘Youth’ by writers like Longfellow and George Bernard Shaw, I have created my own texts for the greater part of the work.

The stylistic elements align themselves to the meaning of the text; for example, the poem I wrote called ‘Teenage Blues’ is set to music in a contemporary ‘blues’ style. Since the work is essentially choral, the instrumental ensemble fulfils mainly an accompaniment role and the musical language is very accessible. The Ensemble consists of flute, oboe, trumpet, cello, synthesiser and two percussionists.

The theme of the Oratorio traces the path of the young child with innocent dreams and optimism through to the teenager whose bravado conceals fear and insecurity.

It is eight main sections with four Recitativos interspersed,