Aurea Luce was written at the request of Madeleine Mitchell and Geoff Poole by way of celebrating my 50th birthday at a concert in my home town of Shaftesbury, Dorset. The work is based on a plainsong melody sung as a hymn for the Feast of St. Peter's Chair in Rome, reflecting the dedication of the church in which the premiere took place. I started writing the work on International Women's Day 2015 and it was serendipitous that the hymn?s text is ascribed very unusually to a 5th century female author, Elpis (reputedly the first wife of the philosopher Boethius). The title translates as '..with golden light..' and in context within the verse it reads as:
Aurea luce et decore roseo, lux lucis, omne perfudisti seculum,
decoran caelos inclito martyrio hac sacra die, quae dat reis veniam.
(The beauteous light of Eternity hath flooded with blissful fires this golden day
which crowns the Prince of the Apostles, and gives unto the guilty a free way to heaven).
(The Poissy Antiphonal, fol. 412v)
The piece states the plainsong clearly at the beginning, with a gradual accumulation of bells (constructed from patterns taken from St. Peter's Church bell changes) making conscious reference to the tintinabulation style of Arvo Pärt. It also hints at James Macmillan's 'Kiss on Wood' which was written especially for Madeleine and which has become one of her very special 'calling cards'.
The work was premiered on 19 September 2015 at St. Peter's Church, Shaftesbury by the dedicatees, Madeleine and Geoff.