• Kenneth Leighton
  • The Light Invisible (1958)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • 2(pic)2234330timp.2perchpstr
  • SSAATTBB
  • tenor
  • 35 min

Programme Note

Kenneth Leighton's cantata, The Light Invisible, is a work of great power, drama and intensity. It was composed for and first performed in 1958 at the famous Three Choirs Festival in England, taking place that year in Hereford. Leighton's music is generally characterized by strong, intense, pulsating rhythms within a harmonic framework which is certainly tonality-related, but is not necessarily associated with a particular tonal center. The cantata opens in somber fashion, with a short fugal section for the instruments, ending with an entrance from the soprano section of the choir. This opening section culminates in a declamato unaccompanied choral outburst on the words "For thus hath the Lord said, the whole land shall be desolate." The tenor soloist enters appassionato against an active orchestral accompaniment, with a sense of urgency and animation. Part I ends with a powerful fortissimo statement from both chorus and orchestra.

Part II develops in similar fashion, with one notable exception vis-a-vis texture: the tenor soloist sings unaccompanied, beginning with the words, "Son of Man," highly effective in the midst of all the choral/orchestral sound. The cantata ends in great excitement, in praise of the "light invisible," with a final exuberant "Alleluia," ending on a C major chord.

© Kenneth Leighton