Dark Night of the Soul | Ola Gjeilo

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From Central Washington University YouTube channel comes this stellar performance of Dark Night of the Soul by the noted Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo. Their video “liner notes” offer the following information:

“Dark Night of the Soul” (Ola Gjeilo) is sung by The Central Washington University Chamber Choir (Gary Weidenaar, director) joined by Ola Gjeilo on the piano and the Kairos String Quartet (comprised of CWU string faculty).

ABOUT THE WORK: “Dark Night of the Soul was written in 2010, and premiered that year by the Phoenix Chorale. The text, three stanzas from St. John of the Cross’ magical poem Dark Night of the Soul, was suggested to me by Joel Rinsema, Executive Director of the Phoenix Chorale, and I fell in love with its passionate spirituality right away. One of the things I wanted to do in this piece was to make the choir and piano fairly equal, as if in a dialogue; often the piano is accompanying the choir, but sometimes the choir is accompanying the piano (or violin) as well, with the choir kind of taking the role of a soft, but rich “string orchestra” texture. I just love the sound of voices humming chords, it creates a sound that can be so evocative and warm, especially when doubled by a string quartet. To me, that sound combination has a similar effect to a great synth pad, only it perhaps feels more organic and alive.” – Ola Gjeilo


ABOUT THE TEXT:

THE DARK NIGHT

Songs of the soul that rejoices in having reached the high state of perfection, which is union with God, by the path of spiritual negation.

1. One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

3. On that glad night
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

– St. John of the Cross (1542-1592)

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