Composer: Henrique Coe

Year of composition: 2015

Concert: May 30, 2018 (Coe’s doctoral recital in composition)
Faculty of Music of the University of Toronto – Walter Hall
[Reverb added]

The Bedford Trio: Alessia Disimino (violin), Andrew Ascenzo (cello), Jialiang Zhu (piano)

Program note:

Martyrium, composed in 2015 for piano, violin and cello, is based on the life of the martyrs and has a duration of approximately 12 minutes.

The lives of the martyrs are undoubtedly very impressive. Rather than denying their faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, these people preferred to forfeit their earthly life in hope of life eternal, even if their martyrdom involved suffering barbaric cruelties. What is also astonishing is that, notwithstanding all that suffering, their souls rejoiced during their ordeal, persisting with remarkable faith, hope and charity. One example in the 20th century is Saint José Luis Sánchez Del Río, who, being only fourteen years old, had the soles of his feet peeled off and was forced to walk barefoot behind a horse for nearly fourteen kilometres while receiving beatings and insults. Despite all of this, he persisted in crying out “Viva Cristo Rey y la Virgen de Guadalupe!”.

After a mysterious beginning, the music builds, alternating between contrasting moods to convey the interplay of suffering and hope. In the middle of the piece, the violin starts a quotation of the Gregorian chant Rex Gloriose Martyrum, emphasizing the glorious and beautiful aspect of martyrdom. The piece ends in a peaceful way; we could think of the martyr going to heaven.

The avant-premiere of Martyrium took place on April 21, 2017 by Michael Smith (piano), Suliman Tekalli (violin), Julia Yang (cello), and Jeremy Gill (conductor) at the public reading session at Discovery Series at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, NY, USA. The official premiere took place on May 14, 2018 at the Ottawa Chamberfest in Canada by the Bedford Trio: Alessia Disimino (violin), Andrew Ascenzo (cello), Jialiang Zhu (piano).