David Lang has composed a modern-day counterpart to Thomas Tallis’ 40-part masterpiece Spem in alium. i never has been commissioned by the Sage Gateshead and will be given its first performance by the Northern Sinfonia Chorus conducted by Simon Halsey on 27 November.
Keeping in mind the atmosphere of religious and political oppression in which the sixteenth century original was written, Lang has taken his cue from its text. “…I decided to push the individual nature of the lines even further than Tallis did,” says Lang, “rewriting the original text to highlight more the introspection of the narrator, and then writing music that sends the solo lines spinning at different rates around the ensemble”.
The commission and performance form part of Lang’s residency at the Sage Gateshead, which began earlier this year and will also include the premiere of a new opera during the 2011/12 season.