Choral Journal Review – August 2017 – Timothy Michael Powell
Veni, Veni Emmanuel
a fascinating, infectious setting . . . effectively carries out that dialogue between the ancient Latin chant and the modern listener
Michael John Trotta (1978: 2015) Text: Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum (1710) SATB with div., (SSAA version available), optional Percussion (3:35) Carl Fischer CM9418
The summer may as well be Advent and Christmas for the church musician, and Michael John Trotta’s Veni, Veni Emmanuel explodes on the listener with modern twenty-first- century suspended harmonies and hip-hop inspired percussion rhythms to create a fascinating, infectious setting for these ancient and beloved Advent antiphons.
The piece exists on the edge of what may be possible for the average church ensemble, but repetition throughout, limited Latin text in the accompanying voices, and homophonic textures in the syncopated vocal accompaniment make the piece deceptively easier. Additionally, the publisher provides free, downloadable, voice-specific prac- tice tracks and live recordings on the product page (listed below), which are a valuable learning resource! The upper voices are in three-part divisi, but the S1 voice could be given to a small group of soloists, particularly when it functions in counterpoint to the choral ostinato. The lower voices divide during the second half of the piece.
Trotta treats the upper S1 voice antiphonally with the rest of the choir, particularly during the “Gaude!” climaxes. In other spots, the S1 acts as a descant in echo to the chant. His stated purpose is to present the music as a “dialogue between supplicants and the Creator, a combination of old and new.” The hip-hop percussion, in partnership with the vocal syncopations and harmonies, effectively carries out that dialogue between the ancient Latin chant and the modern listener, entering and exiting the texture with im- peccable timing, providing moments of musical tension and release. – Timothy Michael Powell – Choral Journal – August 2017