In 2004 I was the twenty-third composer to be commissioned by Martein Fridriksson and the Reykjavik Cathedral choir for their annual “Soli Deo Gloria” festival. I wrote Advent Antiphons
for them—a setting of the Great O Antiphons which are sung before the Magnificat over seven days before Christmas. The texts were not designed to be sung all at once, but I have set them here in this way, in a concert setting. The beginning of the plainsong melody appears in different guises at the beginning of each antiphon, and the free voices in the third and fifth antiphon imitate the voices of birds—something that to me reflects Cantus Arcticus
a beautiful concerto for taped birdsong and orchestra by the Finnish composer Eino Rautavaara which I love. I was fortunate enough to go to Reykjavik for five days to rehearse and conduct the first performance, and to experience the warmth of the people there, and the beautiful and unique landscape.
from notes by Bob Chilcott © 2007