Homo Sum – Sheet MusicView Mark Boden's Full Store
Homo Sum was conceived as a celebration of multiculturalism, reflecting both the diversity of Croydon and the Croydon Bach Choir for whom the piece was commissioned, in addition to celebrating the cosmopolitan nature of London and the UK in general. Across the eight movements comprising Homo Sum, some of the references to multiculturalism are very direct (such as the use of nine different languages), though there are also more more subtle allusions to different cultures and traditions, through varied use of rhythm, texture and harmony.
The work opens and closes with a simple chorale setting of the latin text that gives Homo Sum it’s title. This contrasts significantly with Umoja, the highly energetic third movement which sets Swahili text in a highly rhythmical manner across ever-changing metres.
From the outset of the commission process, I was very keen that members of the choir were involved in suggesting poems for me to set and writing original texts which could be included. A Strand of Hope is a beautiful short poem by Anne Davenport which seemed to capture the spirit of multiculturalism, the importance of working together with shared values at the expense of prejudices.
‘Different Flowers’ places further creative demands upon the choir and conductor. Each vocal part is given six contrasting melodic lines, many of which are set in different languages. Each individual vocalist makes a independent decision as to when to sing, which part to perform and when to vary the material they sing. As a result, the movement gives the choir responsibility for the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, structural and textural development of the movement. Serva Fidem serves as the centrepiece of the composition and sets Latin text above a simple passacaglia which swirls through different harmonic regions.
The penultimate movement Epilogue is a setting of a poem by Grace Nicols used with the kind permission of the poet. Lyrical canons form a simple opening texture before the speed suddenly doubles, the rhythmic energy increases and the choir sing riffs and loops more commonly associated with pop music.
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