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Seven Letters

author of text
Revelation 2 & 3

In the Book of Revelation, St John’s vision of the living Lord is followed by Seven Letters, each one addressed to one of the seven churches in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. (Pitts’s fascination with the number seven extends beyond this piece to The Lord’s Prayer, O Love, O Wisdom of God, and Amen.) In Seven Letters, each of the letters begins on a different note of the scale (ascending from A through B flat, C, D, E, F, and ultimately to G). The composition devises ways of transmitting dense but colloquial prose through music. In another age this would have been called recitative – and so it is. However, a variety of methods of text delivery is explored in this piece and it is impossible to give a generic label to the processes which evolve and re-evolve throughout Seven Letters. The result is that each letter has its own distinctive voice (in every sense of the word). The last letter hides the tune of Amazing Grace within the second alto part as an oblique reference to the words ‘you can see’, and the very last sentence of the text is a musical elaboration of the ‘English’ cadence (a seven-note melodic motif with far-reaching harmonic implications), a building block which infuses all of Pitts’s music in some shape or form. On first hearing, this arching melody is difficult to pinpoint within the thick harmonic texture surrounding it, but the words suggest perseverance (‘He who has an ear, let him hear …’).

from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2005


Pitts: Seven Letters & other sacred music


Letter A: To the angel of the church in Ephesus
Track 4 on CDA67507 [3'37]
Letter B: To the angel of the church in Smyrna
Track 5 on CDA67507 [3'12]
Letter C: To the angel of the church in Pergamum
Track 6 on CDA67507 [3'32]
Letter D: To the angel of the church in Thyatira
Track 7 on CDA67507 [3'40]
Letter E: To the angel of the church in Sardis
Track 8 on CDA67507 [2'48]
Letter F: To the angel of the church in Philadelphia
Track 9 on CDA67507 [3'23]
Letter G: To the angel of the church in Laodicea
Track 10 on CDA67507 [3'48]

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