Click on the thumbnail images for details of this project.
Six outstanding young composers were invited to work in collaboration with researchers at the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews, to create six new compositions.
Each composition focuses on a biblical passage on the theme of ‘Annunciations’. Watch the video for a glimpse of TheoArtistry's exciting inaugural project.
This project was led by Sir James MacMillan and Dr George Corbett, with choir director Tom Wilkinson.
In the run-up to the project, the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts published a 'call for composers.'
From the applicants who responded, only six would be chosen to participate in the theologian-composer partnerships.
Click below to read an archived version of the 'Call for Composers.'
Click below for photos of TheoArtistry composers and theologians at the Composers' Scheme Symposium.
Plus: a glimpse into the making of the TheoArtistry documentary.
Composer: Anselm McDonnell
Theologian: Margaret McKerron
Eve is tempted by the serpent to eat of the Tree of Knowledge and become “like God, knowing good and evil.” In sharing the fruit with Adam, their eyes are opened and they take to the woods, ashamed of their nakedness and fearful of God’s response...
Margaret McKerron and Anselm McDonnell delve into the often overlooked aspect of grace at the time of 'the Fall'. Using Hebrew and English sounds, the music transports the listener to the Garden of Eden - where a monumental conversation takes place between the human and the divine. The composition mirrors the chiastic structure of the original text to create a narrative movement towards the cross of Christ.
Composer: Dominic De Grande
Theologian: Marian Kelsey
Genesis 32 recounts the nocturnal struggle of the patriarch Jacob with a mysterious opponent... With the rising dawn, Jacob realises how close he came to death.
Marian Kelsey and Dominic de Grande present a creative re-telling of Jacob wrestling the unknown stranger. The sound of a solo human whistle weaves among the voices of the choir, who sing words from Emily Dickinson's poem A Little East of Jordan. As playful as it is haunting, this atmospheric piece provides a musical experience reminiscent of traditional storytelling.
Note: 'Savta' means 'grandmother'.
Composer: Kerensa Briggs
Theologian: Rebekah Dyer
Moses, raised as the adoptive son of Pharaoh amid all the wonders of Egypt, has never seen anything as miraculous as this. He draws close — and finds God in the flames...
Rebekah Dyer and Kerensa Briggs take up the challenge of evoking the sensory and spiritual significance of the burning bush as a locus for divine encounter. Using the sounds of choir and organ to represent the distinct voices of Moses, God, and burning bush itself, the composition conveys a meeting of heaven and earth.
Composer: Seán Doherty
Theologian: Caleb Froehlich
Twilight hangs over the land of Israel. YHWH’s ark is housed in the temple at Shiloh, where members of the priesthood abuse their ministerial duties before it. Even as the light slowly fades from the temple and its environs, a single lamp illuminates the boy Samuel lying dutifully beside the ark...
Caleb Froehlich and Seán Doherty invite the listener to imagine the fear and confusion of a young boy confronted with a life-changing prophecy that predicts the downfall of his mentor. This piece plays with ambiguities in the sounds and meanings of Hebrew words, with complex and sometimes disorientating vocals which draw the listener into Samuel's experience of an intense nocturnal visitation from God.
Composer: Lisa Robertson
Theologian: Mary Stevens
The prophet Elijah has been sent to Mount Horeb to encounter God. He experiences a mighty wind, the splitting of rocks, an earthquake and fire... [But] It is in the still small voice – the ‘sound of sheer silence’ as the NRSV has it – that he discovers the presence of God.
Here, Mary Stevens and Lisa Robertson embrace the contradiction of God speaking through silence. Vocal sounds and undefined whispers suggest the breath of an otherworldly breeze, while percussion using only the choir's hands gives a strong sense of physical grounding on the mountain. The piece takes inspiration from St John of the Cross, whose words are used as a contemplation on the paradox of divine presence.
Composer: Stuart Beatch
Theologian: Kimberley Anderson
The man referred to as ‘Solomon’ arguably toes the line between contrasting conceptions of masculinity: forceful and receptive; powerful and passive. The depiction of this smoky, amorous, combative character will question and challenge conceptions of gender both modern and biblical.
Kimberley Anderson and Stuart Beatch offer a deeply textured exploration of the Bridegroom's masculine representation in Song of Songs 3. As well as providing a setting of the biblical text, the composition uses an extract from Milton's Paradise Lost to give voice to Solomon's inner thoughts and feelings on his wedding day.