Who invited the choir to the guitar jam?
"Art has many functions, and I would not decry anyone who makes confrontational work. But one of art's values is its ability to demonstrate the idea that there is a better world. That is not to imply that other values or purposes of art are wrong; rather, I believe there is an important place for optimism in art and that developing that place is a genuinely good thing to do."
Friday morning at a little past 11:00 on WFCR, please tune in for a work composed by the author of those words, then let me know whether you think his music lives up to his message. Bermuda-born Brit Gabriel Jackson specializes in choral works, predominately of the sacred, Latin and a cappella persuasion. While his catalogue is large and growing, Jackson has to my ears avoided the dreaded "it all sounds the same" trap of some of his choral composing contemporaries (care to name them?) through his responsive text-setting and resourceful and imaginative deployment of vocal forces.
In today's work, however, Jackson's imagination runs a little wilder than usual — all the way to blending an angelic choir with the acidic and distorted tones of an electric guitar. Composed for the opening of the King's Place concert hall in 2008, Jackson's Ave regina caelorum combines the oft-set medieval prayer ("Hail, Queen of Heaven") with a Christina Rosetti poem for the Feast of the Annunciation. Well, English composers have done the macaronic thing from the middle ages to Benjamin Britten and beyond. And spicing choral sound with a seemingly incongruous but surprisingly complementary instrumental ingredient has also been tried before, such as on this popular album. But there's nothing so original in music that it totally lacks antecedents. And I think Gabriel Jackson has come up with a winner here, starting with an idea of considerable potential cringe-worthiness, and ending up with something that sounds like it was really meant to go that way.
What do you think? Please tune in, find out, and let us know.