Antony Pitts is something of a musical polymath: composer, choir director, conductor, teacher and radio producer are some of the strings to his musical bow. He may be best known to Australian audiences as Artistic Director of The Song Company, a role he took up in 2016. Pitts is also a man of deep religious faith, which led him to resign as a producer at the BBC in 2005 in protest at the broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera, a work he believed blasphemous.
Pitts’s faith is also at the centre of Jerusalem-Yerushalayim. Textually, the work uses the Jewish (and by extension, Christian) scriptures to evoke the city regarded as holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims, beginning with the genealogy of Abraham and concluding with Isaiah’s vision of a peaceful Jerusalem. Musically, the score is thoroughly postmodern. Pitts peppers his kaleidoscopic pop-style writing with numerous references to Western art music ranging from Dunstaple, White and Tallis through to Handel and Parry.
This studio remix of a 2011 recording (with biblical verses read by David Suchet) eagerly communicates the commitment of the young performers, underlining the composer’s hope that the oratorio will have wide audience appeal, regardless of listeners’ backgrounds. The challenging but rewarding score could provide a unifying focus for performers of different origins in the midst of very real conflict in the Middle East.