• John Tavener
  • Eternity's Sunrise (1997)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by The Academy of Ancient Music

  • fl.ob/handbells/lute[=hp]/str
  • soprano
  • 10 min
  • William Blake
  • English
    • 9th March 2024, Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle, Toledo, OH, United States of America
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Programme Note

'I shared in the image of God, but did not keep it safe; the Lord shares in my flesh, so as to save the image, and to make the flesh immortal' - St Gregory of Nazianzus.

My first ideas for Eternity's Sunrise came to me in January 1997, soon after my father's death. These ideas were taken up again in September the same year, in response to a commission from the Academy of Ancient Music, which happened soon after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. There is no such thing as accident or coincidence, so I dedicated my piece to the memory of the Princess.

The concept of solo soprano (representing earth) at ground level, handbells (representing the angels) at an intermediate position, and the main baroque ensemble at a high level (representing heaven) fitted exactly with the Blake text which I had decided to set. When seen as things truly are, the earth is a mirror of the Eternal World, and when seen correctly, it is possible in this world to live in Eternity's sunrise. God does not exist in the world. And yet at the same time He is reflected in it, giving it form and structure. The music should be played with quiet joy, as a day of sunshine and calm, full of gentleness and radiance.



Eternity's Sunrise


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