“Peace on Earth”
Errollyn Wallen: Peace on Earth – See that I am God – Pace
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, George Hill, Julius Sirringhaus (soloist), Dónal McCann (organist), Sir Stephen Cleobury (conductor)
Recording: Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, England (June 21, 2019) – 14’28
King’s College KG50050 (Distributed by PIAS) – Booklet in English
Peace on earth is serious business and is taken so by composer Errollyn Wallen in her first EP album with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. The Belize-born composer, who studied with the Dance Theater of Harlem and at the Universities of London and Cambridge, offers three selections for the holiday season, and beyond that, are both thought-provoking and heart-warming.
The first, with words and music by the composer, is Peace on Earth a poem whose text is as affecting as its melody, sung by a boy soprano and then by the choir. “And snow falls down on me/Peace on Earth/The night is dark and soft/Peace on Earth”, the song begins. The wintry mood is re-enforced by organ obbligato, performed by Dónal McCann and the pleasantly frosty acoustics of the hall. The late Sir Stephen Cleobury conducted the choir in this performance.
See that I am God, is the second work, with words by Julian of Norwich, a medieval English anchorite and mystic famous for the quotation, “And all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” The words of this piercing song, with its eloquent discords, ring out, “See that I am God. See that I am in everything”, concluding with the reassuring words, “How can anything be amiss?”
The final selection is Pace, a flowing repetition of the Latin word for peace offered in different registers and vocal combinations. The effect is truly other-worldly, a plea for peace not only in the world but in the hearts of individuals.
Wallen has quite an impressive resume of accomplishments. She is the composer of 17 operas, the recipient of many compositional awards, and her albums have traveled 186 orbits around the earth through a NASA space program. These are three beautiful and appropriate selections worth listening to time and again.