Karn, Ruth: Five Sisters
SSA & piano (with semi-chorus and divisions)
The subject of Five Sisters is the five lofty thirteenth-century lancet windows dominating the north transept of York Minster. Telling symbols of women’s strength and resilience, they were removed for protection against Zeppelin raids in the First World War, subsequently restored and reinstated with a dedication to all women of the British Empire who lost their lives in that conflagration, and rededicated in like manner after the Second World War. Ruth Karn first planned to reflect their gravitas in a work of sombre, reflective mood before responding instead with words and music of defiant energy to commemorate the courage and fortitude these women showed in extreme and traumatic circumstances. Five soloists detached from the larger vocal ensemble personalise the sisters themselves as the articulate voice of the precious mediaeval grisaille glass spanning the centuries, now reincarnated in music of bold syncopations and bluesy keyboard harmonies for the women and men of a new millennium.
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