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A reflection on Brumel's Sicut Lilium
I was honoured to be be asked to write a short piece for ORA’s song of songs recording. The plan was to create a short new setting of ‘Sicut Lilium’ so that the disc could begin and end with the same text – the Brumel setting at the beginning and mine at the end. Daunting – since the Brumel is a miniature gem of a piece. Aside from the simplicity and beauty of the writing, it felt so spiritually confident and hopeful. In my version I focussed on the image of the lily amongst the thorns – to me it suggests that you can’t have faith without doubt and you can’t have love without the possibility of losing it.
John Barber is a composer from Bristol with a passion for drama, collaboration and voices. He studied with Sir Harrison Birtwistle and has gone on to compose for some of the country's leading arts institutions and ensembles including the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare's Globe, Spitalfields Music and The Sixteen.
His work has been recognised with various awards. His Cantata Consider the Lilies was the winner of a British Composer award in 2011. His opera, We Are Shadows, was the winner of a prestigious Royal Philharmonic Society award in 2012 and was also shortlisted for a British Composer award in the same year. Seven Seeds was also awarded an RPS award in 2016.