orchestral | 1995

Maynooth Te Deum


Year: 1995

Duration: 35'

Instrumentation: satb soli/satb chorus/satb chamber choir/tb choir/3(2picc)333(cbn)/4331/timp/5 perc/org (ad lib)/str

Program Notes


Maynooth Te Deum        Programme  note

 The Maynooth Te Deum was commissioned by Maynooth College as part of its bicentennial celebrations in 1995. The work is written for the three College choirs – Large chorus, Chamber choir and Male voice choir – Soprano, Contralto, Tenor and Bass soloists, Organ and large symphony orchestra.

In general terms, the music for the large chorus ( movements 1,2, 4, 6, 8 )  is direct in style, employing either block chords or alternately, fugal style textures. The male voice choir (movement 7) has a gently flowing chromatic movement, whose origin lies in plainchant. The music for the chamber choir (movements  3 and 7)  uses a  more complex harmonic and  textural approach while the four soloists have long elaborate melodic lines, frequently in counterpoint with each other or with the choirs.

In writing the piece I have attempted to capture something of the sonorous majesty of the text, which ranges from celebratory declamations to passages of intimate supplication. The work falls into eight movements:  nos. 2,  3,  4 are performed without a break as are movements  6 and 7.

  1. Te Deum laudamus

After a clamorous orchestral opening making much use of  tubular bells, glockenspiel, vibraphone and crotales, the movement  provides a contrast between the laudatory passages for the large chorus  and the more intimate lines of the soloists.

  1. Tu Rex gloriae

 The opening  declamation lead to a four part fugal setting of  Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius. (Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father)  Solo horn leads directly to the third movement.

  1. Tu ad liberandum

 Solos for soprano, contralto, tenor and bass are interwoven with the chamber choir in a more restrained reflective movement. The short dramatic cadenza for the four soloists on the words regna caelorum

(kingdom of heaven) soon fades into the tranquil conclusion. Movement four follows directly.

  1. Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes

 A short movement with the same formal plan as movement two.

  1. Te ergo quaesumus

 Tenor, Contralto, Soprano and Bass soloists are heard in turn with elaborately ornamented vocal lines; short choral sections provide a contrast.

  1. Aeterna fac

A short movement  contrasting the homophonic opening and conclusion with a more contrapuntal middle section. It leads directly into movement seven.

  1. Salvum fac populum

The gently flowing unison or octave  lines of the male voice choir are taken up by the soprano and contralto soloists before being developed into a four part texture by the chamber choir.

  1. Per singulos dies

Musically, this movement provide a varied recap of the first movement, with some new material for the soloists.