• John McCabe
  • Siberia (1980)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Cork International Festival

  • SATB
  • John McCabe
  • James Clarence Mangan

Programme Note

Siberia is the second of three choruses to words by James Clarence Mangan, the Dublin-born poet (1803-49), whose life was a catalogue of personal misfortune characteristic of the wilder Romantic spirits. His poetry is immensely vivid in imagery, and yet, at its best, wonderfully controlled in structure and flow. The three choruses (Motet and Visions are the others) are designed both as a single set, the Mangan Triptych, and as separate works - Siberia was commissioned by the Cork International Choral Festival and first performed there in 1980 by the William Byrd Singers of Manchester, conducted by Stephen Wilkinson.

Mangan's particular obsession with death, pain, and the implacable forces of nature, is given full rein in this poem, but it is slightly more intimate in tone than some of his other work, something reflected in the musical setting. The piece is predominantly slow, with a couple of quicker passages, and the governing mood of doom-laden bleakness is sustained throughout.

© Copyright 2001 by John McCabe