Tavener: The Beautiful Names

Tavener: The Beautiful Names
© Richard Haughton
"The Beautiful Names of Allah (God) are proof of the existence and oneness of Him." This is the teaching of Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti, and is the inspiration behind John Tavener's newest song of praise The Beautiful Names. Commissioned by HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, The Beautiful Names premieres on 19 June at Westminster Cathedral, featuring conductor Jirí Belohlávek leading tenor John-Mark Ainsley, the BBC Symphony, and the choirs of the cathedral and the symphony. Tavener provides the following composer note below.
"The 99 Names of Allah as culled from the Qur'an have formed the basis of [this new] work. The 99 Names are universal, insofar as they are theophanies of the eternal Primordial Being. The Beautiful Names came to me as a vision. I contemplated the meaning of each of the Names as well as the sacred sound of the Arabic, and the music appeared to me spontaneously. The music that came to me was neither chaotic nor random, but seemed always to have an inner logic that frequently related to 'cosmic music' or Music of the Spheres.

"O You who are burdened and troubled with the weight and suffering of the material world, may Allah make His Beautiful Names as soothing balm for your wounded hearts."
— Sheikh Tosun Bayrak al-Jerrahi al-Halveti"A companion of the Prophet Mohammed said 'I never saw anything without seeing God.' Man's mission, therefore, is to join the vision of the 'Outward' (the tangible) to the 'Inward' (the spiritual). This is the aspiration of The Beautiful Names. And perhaps, by doing this in the language of music, one may contribute a little to an inward healing of the appalling strife that permeates the modern world."

The Beautiful Names    70'
Tenor; 2 SATB chorus (+ semi chorus drawn from the main choirs)