The Song of Gabriel


The Song of Gabriel


motet for mixed chorus and string orchestra (or) piano (2010)

  • Premiere: 7 December 2010 / Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Brookfield, WI / Brookfield Central HS Chorus / Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra / Philip Olson
  • Instrumentation: SATB-strs
  • Duration: 10.5'
  • Text: Sabine Baring-Gould (adapted by the composer)

Program Note

Several years ago, I returned to Wisconsin from my home in New York to attend a performance of a work for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble called We're All Here, a joint commission of the Brookfield Central High School Chorus and Milwaukee's premiere new music ensemble, Present Music. I was astonished to realize, surveying the faces of the young choristers as they sang, that they were the teenage children of the boys and girls with whom I had sung in the same chorus two decades earlier.

This union of the brand new and unfamiliar (my new composition) and the familiar (same chorus, next generation!) moved me. It provided the inspiration for The Song of Gabriel -- my treatment of the majestic traditional hymn Gabriel's Message. Echoes of the hymn surface in my motet just as similarities to the features of parents are echoed in the faces of their children.

I have adapted Sabine Baring-Gould's (1834-1924) paraphrase of the traditional Basque Carol words. I identify the piece as a motet because I have used phrases of the original hymn as the cantus firmus for a freely-composed new setting of the words above; I have also interwoven musical fragments adapted from several Gregorian chants.

The new setting was commissioned by the Brookfield Central High School Chorus, Phillip Olson Music Director and Chair of Musical Activities. The first performances featured the Wisconsin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mr. Olson.

— Daron Hagen, 2010

(Banner photo: FRA ANGELICO, Archangel Gabriel Annunciate, 1431, tempera on paper.)

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.