• Nico Muhly
  • A Good Understanding (2008)

  • St. Rose Music Publishing (World)

For Tim Brown and the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge and the Trebles of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York

  • percussion, organ
  • SATB
  • 6 min 33 s
  • English
    • 26th October 2024, Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa, California, United States of America
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Programme Note

A Good Understanding (2005) was written for Tim Brown and the choir of Clare College, Cambridge with the generous cooperation of John Scott and the Boys of Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. A Good Understanding, with texts culled from two psalms, is designed to share a program with Rutter’s expansive and expressive Mass of the Children. The piece unfolds episodically – short choral phrases alternating with longer instrumental interludes. The first half of the text is typical psaltry praise-making: outlining agreements, explaining the rules; the music is, accordingly, severe but practical. The second half of the text begins, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom/a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.’ I find the idea of ‘a good understanding’ to be an especially exciting reward for following the rules; the boys sing pulsed syllables and long descants to celebrate the covenant while the choir sings a lilting, repetitive refrain. (Psalm 111, 10)

Nico Muhly


A Good Understanding


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