The SeafarerMäntyjärvi Jaakko
Commissioned by Choirs Aotearoa NZ for Voices New Zealand’s Taonga Moana programme 2019. Year of composition 2019. Duration 9’30”
Text from the Exeter Book (10th century).
This piece was commissioned for Taonga Moana, a multimedia-enhanced concert in New Zealand celebrating the world’s oceans. The programme included a commissioned piece for each of the oceans by various composers; The Seafarer represents the Arctic Ocean.
The poem is one of the best-known surviving extensive Anglo-Saxon poems. Its themes remain familiar to this day: the narrator is a sailor who has had to endure extreme hardships at sea but nevertheless prefers sailing to life on land and is never really comfortable if not on board a ship. I will admit to selective editing towards the end of the poem to highlight the message of safeguarding the world for posterity, in keeping with the context of the commission. On the other hand, I chose to retain the Old English language rather than use a modern translation in order to underline the sheer age and timelessness of the text.
In musical terms, the piece is based largely on a simple seven-note motif and its inversion. Its repetition, combined with an extensive use of pedal points, lays a foundation representing the sea, always in motion but ultimately unchanging.
Level of difficulty **
|Opening words||Maeg ic me sylfum sothgied wrecan...|
|Music Style||Contemporary / Modern|