About the album
The annual Hanswijk Procession held in the medieval city of Mechelen is one of the oldest religious processions in Belgium. The local people carry a statue of the Virgin Mary through the streets, supported by musicians, choirs and dance groups. The festival is said to have originated in 1272, when Mechelen was saved by the intercession of the Virgin Mary from an epidemic of plague.
Every 25 years a jubilee year is held, in which special religious and cultural activities emphasise the ancient tradition. Of course, this includes music. In the Hanswijk Jubilee Year of 1888, Egard Tinel (1854-1912), a famous Flemish composer, composed his oratorio Sint-Franciscus, which was performed in the cathedral. Since then, many composers and performers have trod in his footsteps, e.g. Staf Nees (oratorio Ave Maria, 1938), Flor Peeters, Peter Cabus (my composition teacher) and Peter Pieters (cantata Mater et Advocata nostra, 1988).
The oratorio Dixit Dominus was commissioned by the committee for the 12th Hanswijk Procession. It is a work that shows how God repeatedly calls man, and how man either accepts or rejects Him. While compiling the text, we deliberately did not follow a chronological order of events, but chose themes from the Old and New Testament and put them together like a puzzle. All the texts are taken from the Bible, apart from the central piece Gott spricht zu jedem nur from the poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). In this poem he describes how God gives man freedom and responsibility.
For this composition many performers are necessary: narrator, baritone (Jesus), soprano (Maria), mixed choir, children’s choir, organ and chamber orchestra. As I was composing I often thought of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), one of my favourite composers, who said: ‘Even today it is possible to write fresh and original music in C major.’
I dedicate this work to my Catalan alter ego Josep Prats, conductor of the outstanding choir Cantiga from Barcelona.
12Domine, Dominus noster
16Meditatio 'Dixit Dominus'
112Ego sum panis
113Hosanna, Benedictus, Hosanna
115Qui cum in forma
116Victimae paschali laudes
117Veni, Sancte Spiritus