• John Tavener
  • Ikon of Light (1984)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)
  • vn.va.vc
  • SSSSAAATTBar2BB Chorus
  • 41 min
  • John Tavener
  • St Simeon the New Theologian
  • Latin

Programme Note

This work should unfold as a ritual in musical terms, attempting to express the inexpressible, i.e. 'uncreated light'. The Greek words (FOS) and (DOXA) mean light and glory. The Greeks had a natural inclination towards the 'luminous', hence the central role of the Transfiguration in the mysticism of the Orthodox Church. The string trio may be thought of as the soul 'yearning for God' and should be placed preferably in a gallery or somewhere similarly distanced from the singers. The central movement sets the remarkable Invocation to the Holy Spirit by St Symeon (942-1022), known as 'The New Theologian'. The Trisagion which occurs on either side of the Prayer means 'Holy God, Holy and Strong, Holy Immortal, Have Mercy upon us' and is one of the most frequently used hymns of the Byzantine rite. Epifania which concludes the work literally means 'shining forth'.

Ikon of Light was commissioned by the Tallis Scholars with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. I am deeply indebted to Bishop Kallistos of Diokletia for his advice, to Dr. Elizabeth Briere for her transliteration of the Greek text and for her constant help.


John Tavener

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