THE LAMENTATIONS Of Jeremiah, recording the destruction of Jerusalem, form some of the most emotional passages in the Bible, and inspired one of classical music’s great sacred works.
The Lamentations were traditionally were sung during Tenebrae, the final three days of Holy Week, in which their impassioned penitential character could form a response to the events of Christ’s passion.
Tenebrae always concluded with singing of psalm 51, Miserere mei, Deus. Gregorio Allegri wrote his celebrated setting in the 1630s and for centuries the score was a closely guarded secret of the Vatican, the Sistine singers bound to keep the music to themselves on pain of excommunication.
However, this did not stop adventurous attendees at the Sistine Tenebrae such as the young Mozart from memorising the music and writing it out afterwards. What modern audiences know as the ‘famous’ Allegri Miserere is in fact a palimpsest far removed from the original.
This prompted Galway choir Resurgam to undertook some detective work in advance of performing the show in Galway. Following their researches the choir will present the work in two forms - an early version close to what Allegri wrote, based on modern scholarly research, with some creative ornamentation by individual choir members, and the more familiar setting complete with the famous “top C” passage for solo soprano.
Resurgam, under conductor Mark Duley, will present the Lamentations in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church on Tuesday March 30 at 8pm. Tickets are €20/15 and available on the door and in advance from Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. See also www.resurgam.ie