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Piet Jozef SWERTS

Death is nothing Canon of St.Paul's Cathedral by Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918

for mixed choir and piano Zodiac Editions www.zodiaceditions.com


Piet Jozef SWERTS

Death is nothing Canon of St.Paul's Cathedral by Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918

for mixed choir and piano

Zo!ac E!tions

www.zodiaceditions.com


NOTE OF THE COMPOSER

The story of this composition is a very mysterious one. Somewhere around 2003 it must have been that I visited London and witnessed the lunar eclipse, a very spectacular moment, where all people were standing and suddenly became very silent when darkness set in in the middle of that day. It was then when I visited the St. Paul’s Cathedral and by coincident found beautiful handwritten calligraphy of the Canon of St. Paul’s. I was definitely planning on putting it to music. This calligraphic facsimile has been on my desktop for at least two years. In a first attempt I had tried to compose a cappella work, it didn't work, I wasn't satisfied with it. Then later, something very special happened. It was a sultry, hot summer evening, I sat down at my desk, and the Canon stood in front of me. There was a Paternoster laying on my desktop close near the facsimile. Then I did something I had never done and never attempted afterward. I spontaneously put the Paternoster around my neck, took my sketchbook and facsimile and entered the room next my office, where it was dark, but then much cooler, silent, but normally, I never would work there. There stood a digital piano in the corner. I opened my sketchbook with the Paternoster around my neck and suddenly start writing. I felt inspired, and some

moments later, very naturally, I suddenly looked behind me because I really felt that someone had entered this room and stood behind me. For acoustic reasons, however, the door between this room and my workspace is a double door, it was difficult to open it but then I had not heard it to be opened by anyone, but I was so certain that I had felt and know that someone had entered and stood right behind me looking over my shoulder on my sketchbook. Now I am convinced that this must have been Henry Scott Holland. But then I was so in panick that I dropped everything and fled to the top floor and never returned that night. An experience that I have never felt again. The next day I went back to this room in the morning. My sketchbook was still there. What I noted was enough to finish the piece. It seemed as if it had been dictated to me then. This version was for two sopranos and an organ without pedals. In that version we performed it in an old Roman church. The reactions of the few people there were overwhelming and above all, the piece sounded so English, not at all my own style, it was something very special. This version has been completely reworked, the main lines of the two female voices have been retained, but the whole has been translated for a mixed choir and provided with an elaborated piano part.


DEATH IS NOTHING

Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner. All is well.


Cultural Youth Passport Belgium-Netherlands (1988) as a promising young artist, the Prize of the Gazet van Antwerpen (newspaper) (1989) for Symphony No. 1 and the Prize for Composition of the Province Brabant (1993) for a choral work.

Dr. Swerts, Piet Jozef (b. Nov. 14, 1960, Tongeren) is a Belgian composer, conductor and pianist of international acclaim; his large catalogue of more than 240 works includes stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and piano works. Dr. Swerts studied from 1974-89 at the Leuven College of Arts (LUCA) Campus Lemmens in Leuven, where he obtained ten first prizes and for the first time in the history of the same institute the special Prize Lemmens Tinel for composition and piano with great distinction. Among his teachers were Alan Weiss (USA) and Robert Groslot. Since 1982 he is Professor of Composition and Orchestration at the same institute, now Department of Drama and Music associated with the Catholic University of Leuven. He has been invited as guest professor in the Sweelinck Conservatory, Amsterdam, Netherlands, in the Department of Electronic Music at the University of Huddersfield, GB, the Polytechnic Institute in Castelo Branco, Portugal, as well as in the Polytechnic Institute North Karelia, Conservatory of Joensuu, Finland, and the Conservatory of Barcelona, Spain. As a composer he has received more than ten awards, including the Baron Flor Peeters Prize (1983) for Apocalyps I and the Prize of the Belgian Artistic Promotion (1985) for the song Ardennes. He has also received the SABAM Prize (1986) for his Piano Concerto No. 2 (Rotations), which was chosen as a compulsory concerto during the finals of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition later that year. Other awards include the Camille Huysmans Composition Prize (1986) for Dream pictures and the Prize for Composition of the Province Limburg (1986) for Capriccio for guitar and chamber orchestra. In addition, he has received the Silver Trophy of the

He considers himself as autodidactic. Nevertheless, in summer 1981, he participated in a composition summer course with Witold Lutoslawski and Vladimir Kotonsky in Poland. From 1985 until 2005, he became also conductor of the Ensemble for Contemporary Music at the Institute and since that time, he has mostly worked on the base of commissions. Among commissioners are the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Flanders, the Symphony Orchestra of Flanders, the Opera of Antwerp, the Radio Orchestra, European Brass Band Championships, l’Orchestre de Strassbourg, Rubio String quartet, Gaggini Quartet, Flanders Recorder Quartet, the International Queen Elisabeth competition and many others. In 1993 his violin concerto Zodiac was selected out of 154 works from 28 countries as the compulsory concerto for the finals of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition for Violin. For this piece, he received the Grand Prix in the International Queen Elisabeth Composition Competition, 1993 (the first Belgian composer to win the prize). Included in the jury at the competition that year were Henryk Górecki and Franco Donatoni. In the same year, a double CD of the world première performance of his Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Marcum for four soloists, chorus and large orchestra (composed in 1988-89 and first performed in 1993) was released. In 1994, the international organization Jaycies awarded him as one of the Ten Outstanding Young People. Dr. Swerts has been invited as a guest-conductor in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Poland, and China, where he conducted the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra in 1994 with his own works. In October 2005, he was guest conductor of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra in Caracas, Venezuela, where he conducted a full program Belgian music, including his own compositions. In 2019 he conducted the Radio and TV orchestra in Tirana with his double concerto Passions. In December 1996-January 1997, his opera Les liaisons dangereuses was premièred by the Flemish Opera (who commissioned it) in Ghent and Antwerp. In the


magazine, Opera Now (UK), it was hailed as one of the most remarkable events of that season. In January 1997, there was a CD release by Eufoda devoted to his piano compositions (1985-95), recorded by the composer himself. In September 2000 his Symphony No. 2 (Morgenrot) was given its world première to unanimous critical acclaim; since, his Clarinet Quintet, recently recorded by the Finnish Tempera String Quartet en Roeland Hendrikx, clarinet for the label In Flanders’ Fields has also been given a successful première. His fifth piano concerto Wings performed and recorded by the composer has received already many performances after the first year of its creation: 4 performances in Germany, December 2004, 3 performances in Japan August 2004, 6 performances in Belgium in 2003, 2 performances in Québec, Canada in April 2005, and performances in Singapore, France 2006, USA december 2005. His Dance of Uzume for alto saxophone and concert band was his first commission from Japan for the famous EMIartist Nobuya Sugawa, recorded in January 2005 by the famous Tokio Kosei Wind Orchestra. His large-scale piece for choir and orchestra Living Stone, a set of 14 pieces and 60 minutes of music to be built in an exposition with the same name and content in the Museum site M in Leuven, from September 2005 until January 2006 has been recorded on CD. In 2006 his Kotekan for saxophone and strings has been commissioned by the International Adolphe Sax Association as compulsory concerto during the finals of the competition in November 2006. He played recitals in USA in 2005, 2007, 2010 and in Ethiopa, Addis Abeba. In 2011 he became Doctor Phd in Arts with the greatest distinction at the Leuven University College of Arts with a comparative research of compositional canonic techniques between the L’homme armé Masses of the late 15th Century and contemporary composers who utilized the same melody. In 2012 he composed his 6th Piano concerto ‘Indian Summer’ and was also involved to realize the soundtrack for an international film ‘Atlantic.’ by the Dutch director Jan-Willem Van Ewijk from Amsterdam. In 2013, he became appointed as member of the Royal Academy of Arts of Belgium.

In 2014 Vienna Philharmonic harpist Anneleen Lenaerts played the première of his Etoiles for harp and orchestra. In 2016 he received a commission for the National Orchestra of Belgium for a new orchestral work named ‘l’Apogée’. which was premiered in May 2017, Hugh Wolff conducted. In September 2017 his large oratorio ‘Symphony of Trees’ (86’) commissioned by the City of Ypres, was premiered as a commemoration of the First World War in the Cathedral of Ypres with Thomas Blondelle, tenor, Lee Bisset, soprano, a children’s choir of 60 singers, a 280-man mixed choir, two organs and the Flemish Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Angus. Its Cd is released by PHAEDRA. In November 15th 2017 he conducted the Ukrainian Symphony Orchestra at the Gala Concert in Kiev as closure of the Golden Saxophone Competition under surveillance of the Belgian Embassy. In 2018 commissions led to first performances of Passions, a new Double Concerto for two pianos in Belgium and Nijmegen 2019, Serenata for wind ensemble, commissioned by Il Gardelino, a new Suite, Horta for saxophone and piano, commissioned by Arno Bornkamp, presented at the World Congress in Zagreb in 2019. In March 2020 the Roeland Hendrikx Ensemble created his large chamber music cycle Le bestiaire, for clarinet, piano and string quartet. It has been recorded on CD and will be released in September 2020. In June, his Dutch book Principes van de Orkestratie has been published, his adaptation and introduction of Korsakovs book. Further first performances include his Third Symphony Yakara by the Zuidnederlandse Philharmonie in September 2020. www.pietswerts.be www.zodiaceditions.com


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Canon of St.Paul's Cathedral by Henry Scott Holland 1847-1918

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Profile for Piet Swerts

ZE-Digital DEATH IS NOTHING  

The famous St.Paul's Canon for mixed choir and piano

ZE-Digital DEATH IS NOTHING  

The famous St.Paul's Canon for mixed choir and piano

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