My newest choral-orchestral work, Fire of the Spirit, was commissioned to celebrate Sir Andrew Davis’s final season as Chief Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Initially, I sought to find a joyous, celebratory text from an Australian writer, and while I discovered many beautiful and certainly singable works, I struggled to settle on something that not only felt appropriate for the occasion, but also meshed well with Sir Andrew’s personality. (I should clarify: Sir Andrew is my father, so I know him better than most!) Perhaps, I thought, the answer lay in a text from neither a British nor Australian writer, but rather from someone with historical relevance to the world at large. To that end, I settled on a text by 12th-century polymath Hildegard of Bingen, one of the most impactful figures in all Western music history.

Ed Frazier Davis Ed Frazier Davis

Hildegard’s words exalt the Holy Spirit vividly and ecstatically, and my intent was to match this text with music of comparable ecstasy, richness, and complexity. The harmonic and melodic structure of Fire of the Spiritderives entirely from a twelve-note (though not dodecaphonic) melody, sung by the first sopranos on...

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