Defend us in Battle

Defend us in Battle (based on the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel)
Composer: Henrique Coe
Year of composition: 2016 (original for full orchestra)
Chamber orchestra version: 2018
Duration: approximately 6’15’

Video: Coe’s doctoral recital in composition – University of Toronto (May 30, 2018)
Performers:
Maria Vallejo, flute
Kira Shiner, oboe
Kaye Royer, clarinet
Sam Fraser, bassoon
Daniel Ho, French horn
Brian McAuley, trumpet
Brayden Friesen, trombone
Matt Moore and Jonny Smith, percussion
Myriam Blardone, harp
Felipe Muñoz Garcia, Alexey Pankratov and Vivian Kukiel, violin I
Joella Pinto, Madeleine Zarry and Ah Young Kim, violin II
Emily Hiemstra and Vena Lin, viola
Matthew Christakos and Brendan Rogers, violoncello
Chiara Culmone, contrabass
Henrique Coe, conductor

Program note:
Defend us in Battle, originally written for full orchestra, is based on the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and has a duration of approximately 6’15’’.
The piece starts with a beautiful and mysterious character, notably with the oboe solo over harmonics on the strings, which anticipates the theme of St. Michael the Archangel. Gradually the piece acquires tension, leading to a bellicose character, which depicts the spiritual battle. A beautiful melodic section releases the tension, mainly with woodwinds and than with keyboard percussion, but the battle soon comes back. The trumpets start playing the theme of St. Michael and a strong and dissonant chord ends the bellicose section; one could think of St. Michael casting “into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls”. Then, a triumphant section based on the theme of St. Michael takes place and a peaceful coda conclude the piece.
Defend us in Battle was premiered in Windsor (Ontario) on February 18, 2017 by the Windsor Symphony Youth Orchestra conducted by Peter Wiebe. It was also performed about two months later in a side-by-side concert with both the youth and the principal Windsor symphony orchestras.
The chamber orchestra version was performed for the first time in Coe’s doctoral recital in composition on May 30, 2018 at the University of Toronto.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:
Saint Michael Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.