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Gavin Bryars's The Fifth Century Premieres with The Crossing and PRISM Quartet

Jul. 07, 2014

Gavin Bryars's <em>The Fifth Century</em> Premieres with The Crossing and PRISM Quartet

Gavin Bryars’s The Fifth Century, a new large-scale work for choir and saxophone quartet, receives its world premiere on July 12 with Philadelphia-based chamber choir The Crossing and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. Donald Nally leads the performance, which takes place at The Icebox at Crane Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Commissioned by The Crossing, The Fifth Century is a setting of a text from Thomas Traherne's Centuries of Meditations, specifically from the last section The Fifth Century. Bryars speaks of Traherne’s works as having “intense spirituality, celebrating the glory of creation.” Bryars's setting reflects on Traherne’s imagery, and is also imparted in the structure and arrangement of the ensemble. He writes:

There are seven sections drawn from the different sections of Traherne’s Fifth Century; while the musical setting is not complex, the choir is often divided into multiple parts. The saxophone quartet - soprano, alto, tenor and baritone - has a prologue and short interludes but the instrumental writing is relatively restrained. In some movements the saxophone accompaniment is quite busy, whereas at times the choir is virtually a cappella.

Details on the premiere can be found at

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Gavin Bryars
The Fifth Century (2014)
for choir and saxophone quartet