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O Oriens (2015)

for SATB choir | 00:04:00

by Melissa Dunphy

Commissioned by the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, conductor Matthew Glandorf.

Composer's Notes


"When I was asked to set one of the O Antiphons, I knew the one I wanted to choose was "O Oriens" because of its universality. While my setting uses the traditional plainsong setting as its backbone, I hear the text as relevant far beyond its liturgical purpose; it becomes a plaintive call for light in the form of love, knowledge, and peace both in the world and within each of us personally, particularly for those of us who have suffered from depression or grief."

Press quotes

The setting of the Advent Great ‘O’ antiphon, O Oriens, is musically more ambitious. Dunphy weaves fragments of the plainchant to which the antiphon was first set into her music in a very effective way Her choral textures are inventive and the Pembroke singers rise to the challenges of the piece very successfully. [Music Web International]

Melissa Dunphy's O Oriens (O Morning) offered no gimmicks - just a model of sincerity, beautiful harmonic changes, and a great sensitivity to pitches and phrases that fall naturally on the human voice. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Dunphy’s motet unfolds with a chant-like opening, creating an organic link between the modern and ancient, and expanding into lush diatonic clusters and triads. Shimmering seconds in the upper register frequently give way to strong harmonic pillars and a few change-of-mode surprises. [Douglas Buchanan]

The concert opened with Dunphy’s 2015 composition “O Oriens,” setting an O Antiphon the composer described as a “plaintive call for light in the form of love, knowledge, and peace both in the world and within each of personally, particularly for those of us who have suffered from depression or grief.” [...] Dunphy draped the traditional modal plainchant in close harmonies and chromatic colorations, making it both old-fashioned and new-fangled in a deliciously Cappella Romana sort of way. I always look forward to Dunphy’s contributions to Resonance concerts, and this one delivered magnificently. [Matthew Neil Andrews, Oregon Arts Watch]

Melissa Dunphy’s "O Oriens" reached further back into the past [...] It was wonderful to hear the chant melody spread through the voices, in linear and vertical directions, and varied transformations. The ensemble and unison intonation at the opening was spot on; then the chant spoke through chordal clusters, the whole gradually expanding by means of intensity of colour, dynamic and weight. The appeal, “veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis” (Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death), was almost fierce, but there was a return to timeless serenity at the close. [Claire Seymour, Opera Today]


O Oriens

O Oriens,
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.


O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Artwork by NASA


Performances

  • 17 May, 2024: Danish National Vocal Ensemble at Trinitatis Kirke, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 23 Mar, 2024: Vox Anima London Singers and VOCES8 at Cadogan Hall, London, England
  • 25 Feb, 2024: Chorus Austin Chamber Ensemble at Austin Central Library, Austin, TX
  • 24 Feb, 2024: Chorus Austin Chamber Ensemble at St. Martin's Lutheran Church, Austin, TX
  • 23 Feb, 2024: Bloom Sound Collective at Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York, NY
  • 12 Jan, 2024 - 13 Jan, 2024: Philadelphia Voices of Pride at Church of St. Luke & The Epiphany, Philadelphia, PA
  • 23 Dec, 2023 - 07 Jan, 2024: VOCES8 at St. Anne & St. Agnes Church, London, England [LIVE From London]
  • 23 Dec, 2023 - 24 Dec, 2023: Washington National Cathedral Choir at Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
  • 20 Dec, 2023: St. Stephen's Sanctuary Choir at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA
  • 17 Dec, 2023: Church of St. Mary Magdalene Gallery Choir at Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto, Canada
  • 17 Dec, 2023: St. Stephen's Sanctuary Choir at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA
  • 17 Dec, 2023: Chorus Austin Chamber Ensemble at Austin Central Library, Austin, TX
  • 16 Dec, 2023 - 17 Dec, 2023: Chorus Austin Chamber Ensemble at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, Austin, TX
  • 10 Dec, 2023: Chicago Chamber Choir at St. Ita Catholic Church, Chicago, IL
  • 10 Dec, 2023: St. Peter's Choir at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, St. Louis, MO
  • 10 Dec, 2023: Epiphany Episcopal at Epiphany Parish of Seattle, Seattle, WA
  • 09 Dec, 2023: New York Chamber Choir at Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, New York, NY
  • 09 Dec, 2023: Chicago Chamber Choir at Queen of the Apostles Parish, Chicago, IL
  • 08 Dec, 2023: Exilo, University of Southern California at School of Music 206 Recital Hall, Columbia, CA
  • 04 Dec, 2023 - 05 Dec, 2023: Sestina Music at The Ulster Museum, Belfast, Ireland
  • 03 Dec, 2023: Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Choir at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, OR
  • 03 Dec, 2023: Saint Mark's Church Parish Choir at Saint Mark's Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • 03 Dec, 2023: Trinity Cathedral Choir at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, OR
  • 19 Feb, 2023: Duartes Vocal Ensemble at AMUZ, Antwerp, Belgium
  • 31 Jan, 2023: Voices of Ascension Singers and Players at Roulette Intermedium, Brooklyn, NY
  • 22 Dec, 2022: BBC Singers at Temple Church, London, UK
  • 18 Dec, 2022: The Choir of All Saints', Putney at All Saints' Church, London, UK
  • 17 Dec, 2022: Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble at Grace & St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Colorado Springs, CO
  • 16 Dec, 2022: Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble at Grace & St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Colorado Springs, CO
  • 04 Dec, 2022: Cathedral Basilica Choir at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul, Philadelphia, PA
  • 04 Dec, 2022: Princeton Chapel Choir at Princeton University Chapel, Princeton, NJ
  • 04 Dec, 2022: Cardinal Singers at University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio TX
  • 19 Nov, 2022: Chestnut Street Singers at St. Clement’s Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • 19 Dec, 2021: The Choir of The Good Shepherd at Church of the Good Shepherd, Bryn Mawr, PA
  • 19 Dec, 2021: The Ebor Singers at The National Centre for Early Music, York, UK
  • 19 Dec, 2021: Grace and St. Peter's Choir at Grace & St. Peter's Church, Baltimore, MD
  • 17 Dec, 2021: St. Peter Catholic Church Choir at St. Peter Catholic Church, Danbury, CT
  • 12 Dec, 2021: Harmonium Choral Society at The Presbyterian Church in Morristown, Morristown, NJ
  • 11 Dec, 2021: Harmonium Choral Society at The Presbyterian Church in Morristown, Morristown, NJ
  • 05 Dec, 2021: Saint Mark's Parish Choir at Saint Mark's Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • 04 Dec, 2021: The William Ferris Chorale at St. Vincent De Paul Church, Chicago, IL
  • 03 Dec, 2021: The William Ferris Chorale at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chicago, IL
  • 28 Nov, 2021: Washington National Cathedral Choir at Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
  • 21 Nov, 2021: Fresno Pacific University Concert Choir at First Congregational church, Fresno, CA
  • 23 Jun, 2021: St Martin’s Voices and Anna Lapwood at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, UK
  • 30 Nov, 2020: Washington and Lee University Singers at Wilson Hall, Lexington, VA
  • 07 Dec, 2019: Penn Chorale at St. Mary’s Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • 07 Dec, 2019: Choir of St. Paul’s Burlingame at St. Paul's Episcopal Church Burlingame, CA
  • 07 Dec, 2019: Choir of St. Paul's at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlingame, CA
  • 02 Dec, 2019: Bridge Ensemble at The Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, MD
  • 02 Dec, 2019: Bridge Ensemble at Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, MD
  • 01 Dec, 2019: Choir of St. Paul’s Burlingame at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Burlingame, CA
  • 01 Dec, 2019: St. James Cathedral Choir at St. James Cathedral, Chicago, IL
  • 01 Dec, 2019: Bridge Ensemble at Christ Church, Easton, MD
  • 01 Dec, 2019: Bridge Ensemble at Christ Church, Easton, MD
  • 22 Nov, 2019: Concinnity at St. Peters Episcopal Church, Hebron, CT
  • 26 Oct, 2019: Concinnity at Storrs Congregational Church, Storrs, CT
  • 05 Oct, 2019 - 06 Oct, 2019: Resonance Ensemble at Cerimon House, Portland, OR
  • 27 Jun, 2019: Paul Laprade, conductor at Illinois State University, Normal, IL
  • 11 May, 2019: Ensemble Companio at Trinity Center for Urban Life, Philadelphia, PA
  • 28 Apr, 2019: Ensemble Companio at United Parish in Brookline, Brookline, MA
  • 27 Apr, 2019: Ensemble Companio at St. John the Evangelist Church, Newport, RI
  • 17 Apr, 2019: The Botetourt Chamber Singers at Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, VA
  • 07 Apr, 2019: The Botetourt Chamber Singers at Wren Great Hall, Williamsburg, VA
  • 30 Mar, 2019: Ensemble Companio at Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church, New York, NY
  • 02 Feb, 2019: Ensemble Companio at Union College, Schenectady, NY
  • 23 Dec, 2018: Saint John’s Cathedral Choir at Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver, CO
  • 21 Dec, 2018: Church of the Good Shepherd Choir at Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA
  • 21 Dec, 2018: Church of the Good Shepherd at Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, PA
  • 21 Dec, 2018: The Bridge Ensemble at All Hallows Episcopal Church, Davidsonville, MD
  • 19 Dec, 2018: The Bridge Ensemble at Church of the Redeemer, Baltimore, MD
  • 16 Dec, 2018: Bryn Mawr Chamber Singers at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Bryn Mawr, PA
  • 09 Dec, 2018: Maryland Choral Society at Mount Calvary Catholic Church, District Heights, MD
  • 08 Dec, 2018: Pacific Edge Voices at Crowden Music Center, Berkeley, CA
  • 08 Dec, 2018: The Botetourt Chamber Singers at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, Williamsburg, VA
  • 08 Dec, 2018: Opus 7 at St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA
  • 06 Dec, 2018: Pacific Edge Voices at The Green Room, San Francisco, CA
  • 17 Nov, 2018: The Botetourt Chamber Singers at Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, VA
  • 21 Oct, 2018: Convivium at Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos, CA
  • 19 Oct, 2018: The Botetourt Chamber Singers at Wren Chapel, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
  • 16 Jun, 2018: Myriad at St. Mary's Church, Chiddingstone, UK
  • 20 Apr, 2018: McNeese State University Chamber Singers at First United Methodist Church, Lake Charles, LA
  • 10 Dec, 2017: The Singers at Nativity of Our Lord, St. Paul, MN
  • 03 Dec, 2017: The Singers at Wayzata Community Church, Wayzata, MN
  • 02 Dec, 2017: The Singers at St. Olaf Catholic Church, Minneapolis, MN
  • 04 Dec, 2016: Choir of University Lutheran Church at University Lutheran Church, Philadelphia, PA
  • 02 Dec, 2016: Voces Inauditae at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, Scotland
  • 20 Nov, 2016: Richmond Concert Chorale at All Saints Episcopal Church Henrico, VA, US
  • 18 Nov, 2016: Richmond Concert Chorale at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Richmond, VA
  • 11 Nov, 2016: RPI Concert Choir at Chapel + Cultural Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
  • 10 Sep, 2016: Voces Inauditae at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland
  • 01 Apr, 2016: The Bridge Ensemble at Harbor East, Baltimore, MD
  • 20 Dec, 2015: St. Peter's Choir at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, St. Louis, MO
  • 02 Dec, 2015: Choral Arts Society at St. Clement's Church, Philadelphia, PA

Awards

  • VOICES 21C Call for Scores finalist 2019
  • RED NOTE New Music Festival Composition Competition Honorable Mention 2017