2020 Procession for 14 musicians
Fl, Ob, Cl, S. Sax, Bsn, Hn, Perc I, Perc II, Pno, Vln I, Vln II, Vla, Vc and Db.
Conducted by Timothy Lines, premiered at New Perspectives Concert at Royal College of Music in London, October 2021.
In times of the bubonic plague in Europe throughout the middle ages and renaissance, one of the most common collective responses to this issue was the anti-pestilential processions, where all the inhabitants of the city would gather together singing to god across the streets.
The iconic sound and the common musical thread of these public devotions was undoubtedly the “Litany of saints”, a term that functioned as a synecdoche for “procession” itself.
This piece is inspired in the “Litany of saints” and follows the note sequence of this prayer:
When quarantine was imposed, church bells all over the parish – rung seven times a day, approximately every two hours. While the bell was sounding, litanies or supplications will be sung or recited at the direction of the Bishop. This would be performed in such a way that one group sings from the windows or the doors of their homes, and then another group sings and responds in turn, as stated in the excerpt of this chronicle written by Paolo Bisciola in Milano in 1567:
“When the plague began to grow, this practice [of singing the litanies in public] was interrupted, so as not to allow the congregations to provide it more fuel. The orations did not stop, however, because each person stood in his house at the window or door and made them from there . . . Just think, in walking around Milan, one heard nothing but song, veneration of God, and supplication to the saints, such that one almost wished for these tribulations to last longer.”