Andrew Smith #1

In 1952 John Cage (1912­–1992), controversial American composer, philosopher and
mycologist, wrote a piece of music called 4’33” with which he
challenged our traditional concept of music and our way of listening to it.
Quite simply he was trying to answer the question of what music is.

I won’t be attempting to offer an answer (it’s quite a tricky question when you start
thinking about it), but each week I’ll present something that is music (in my opinion, at least). I’m a composer by vocation, and have been composing music since before I could
sight-read at the piano (something I still haven’t quite got the hang of…) – so
perhaps I’m as much a composer by default (and subsequently by training and,
little by little and most importantly, by experience).

You’ll be in for a solid dose of choral music here. I love writing for the voice, for
choirs and vocal ensembles. Howard and I met in a choir and choral singing
(with all of its fringe benefits) is a passion we share.


Grex Vocalis, a mixed voice choir from Oslo founded and directed by Carl Høgset celebrates its fortieth anniversary with a concert at the newly restored Universitetets
Aula on Sunday 25 September. Edvard Munch’s wonderful murals provide the
perfect backdrop to a programme of music covering five centuries, from Thomas
Tallis (1505–1585) to Arne Nordheim (1932–2010). Details here.

This week’s musical offering is two performances by Grex Vocalis from a concert in Arezzo,
Italy, in September 2010. The first piece is Sicut cervus by Giovanni
Pierluigi da Palestrina (c.1525–1594). Watch and listen here.

The second piece is my very own Christi tractus in
(words from the Office of St Olav, Norway’s patron saint). Watch and
listen here.

This is justto prove a point I’ll make in a later post that the distance between old and
new in music is very short; in fact, sometimes the old sounds newer than the

Andrew Smith

17th September 2011

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