• 3hn/perc/str
  • SATB
  • Soprano, Baritone
  • 40 min
    • 24th August 2024, St Andrew's Church, Presteigne, Powys, United Kingdom
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Programme Note

Mirror of Perfection was commisioned by the Royal Ballet School and first performed at the Royal College of Music in March 1996. The words are settings of hitherto unknown poems by St Francis of Assisi and cover a wide expressive and emotional range: from hope to despair, longing to serene acceptance, love to bitterness delight in Creation to an impassioned plea for peace amongst mankind. In the sixth of the seven parts the 'amore' appears no less thsn forty-eight times in a passacaglia setting of immense power and vocal dynamism. The cantata is no pious word-setting of an ancient saint - rather it is a passionate and vibrant evocation of a man who remains a symbol of hope in an age of spiritual emptiness and cultural decline.

It is paradoxical that the tiny chapel of the Porziuncula in which St Francis found solitude for much of his life was, four centuries later, overlayed in marble and gilt and enclosed within the massive superstructure of the church of Santa Maria delle Angeli. That the cimplicity and goodness for which he stood should have survived the pomp of his cononization, the commercialization of Assi and what in our world passes for glorification is nothing short of a miracle. Yet Francis remains a beacon of spiritual light in our technological, ego-based, psychologically-oriented twentieth century, and suggests that perhaps it is only and the celebration of life in all its beauty and horro that offers any possibility of redemption as we face the new millenium.

During the composition I returned again and again to the image of Francis' little chapel, stripping away everything inessential, rhetorical, searching within for music that was a mirror of the saint's simple and profound delight in Creation.


Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of the Creatures
Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of Love I
Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of the Furnace
Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of Love II
Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of The Birds
Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of Love III
Mirrors of Perfection: Canticle of Peace


Preview the score