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Ave Maris Stella

for Choir, String quartet and Organ

'Monstra te esse matrem' is the core of the piece and its mirror-image, as though man was watching himself in the mirror/matrem reveal himself through prayer and the Virgin to God, who has made Himself man/reflection.

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Ave Maris Stella is a well-known hymn for the liturgy of the hours. It is in the Codex Sangallensisand is without doubt one of the masterpieces of Gregorian chant. When I decided to set this text to music, I immediately had to decide whether to use the famous Gregorian hymn itself as a quotation within the composition. When dealing with a text like this it's difficult to detach oneself from the music which has almost certainly accompanied it since its conception, and I therefore decided to use small fragments of the original music in some sections. In the central part, specifically in the fourth quadruplet which is the core of both the piece and the prayer, I did not hesitate to use the original music in its complete state, with just a few small variations. This section of the text describes the crucial moment when the Virgin Mary is asked to reveal Herself: "Monstra te esse matrem", and it was for this reason that I kept the original melody. 

Having addressed this issue I turned my attention to the rest of the composition. During my research, I discovered that Johann Sebastian Bach had developed a melody by Gesius Barth about Ave Maris Stella in a chorale. The chorale in question is no. 272, Befiehl du deine Wege, or, Ave Maris Stella. I took more musical material from the Bach chorale, which I developed using experimental processes with the purpose of setting the text's remaining quadruplets to music. In this case too, some small choral fragments are played in their original way.

Finally, I chose the instruments which would accompany the choir, and opted for the organ and the string quartet. The quartet is used in the piece as though it were a register of the organ's range, a way of embellishing the piece and including specific timbres which the organ lacks (such as pizzicato or bow on the bridge).

- introduction: 'Ave Maris Stella'
- first part: 'Sumens illud ave'
- second part: 'Monstra te esse matrem'
- third part: 'Virgo singularis'
- finale: 'Sit laus Deo Patri'

'Monstra te esse matrem' is the core of the piece and its mirror-image, as though man was watching himself in the mirror/matrem reveal himself through prayer and the Virgin to God, who has made Himself man/reflection.

Ensemble Ensemble
Instruments Choir, Organ, String Quartet
Duration 13′ (minutes)
Dedicated -
World premiere Coro Musicanova of Rome and Cappella Tiberina
September 29th, 2010, Cattedrale del Duomo, Pisa
Prize Composition Competition 'Anima mundi 2010', Pisa, Italy
Commission -
Link soundcloud link to audio
Notes N/A

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