The Assumption – for string orchestra
Composer: Henrique Coe
Concert: 29th November 2016 (University of Toronto Chamber Orchestra’s concert)
Conductor: Paul Widner
Faculty of Music of the University of Toronto (Walter Hall)
The piece “The Assumption”, for string orchestra, was composed in the context of my residence in the University of Toronto Chamber Orchestra. It refers to the extraordinary event in which God has taken to heaven the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
966: “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”(508) The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:
In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.(509)
Within a sonata form, the piece starts quoting the Gregorian chant “Assumpta est Maria in caelum” (Mary has been taken to heaven), the first Antiphon of the Vespers of the Feast of the Assumption (August 15). Vespers is an evening prayer that priests and religious pray or chant daily. Then, a second theme appears in the cello. This second theme becomes very important in the development of the piece, which also features a third theme with an upward motion, bringing an idea of going up.
At the end, the three themes are stated again in the recapitulation and a coda with the Gregorian theme concludes the piece, which ends with violin harmonics.