Father António Vieira was a Portuguese Jesuit priest, philosopher, and writer of the 17th-century. Born in Lisbon, he traveled to Brazil as a young boy with his parents before entering the seminary there. Throughout a career as turbulent as it was auspicious he produced hundreds of discourses, amounting to the most significant singular contribution to Portuguese prose. In Olhos, espelho e luz (Eyes, Mirror and Light) composer Andreia Pinto-Correia, also a native of Lisbon, has set two excerpts of Vieira’s voluminous writings.
Two wind quintets sit mirrored on the stage, each augmented by a harp and two percussionists. Throughout the work these ensembles literally reflect and mirror the sound of the other. A centrally positioned brass ensemble provides glowing, glinting sounds that build and refract symbolizing the ‘light’ referred to in the text. The spectral timbres create an ethereal atmosphere, punctuated by the hushed whispers of a congregation. The tenor’s voice delivers the sermon against an undulating backdrop of mysterious ambiance.
-Program notes by Ingrid Martin-
Text by Padre António Vieira (1608-1697), Sermão da Sexagésima, recited at Capela Real, 1655. Sung in Portuguese and Latin.