Title

Showings

Date of Award

4-2005

Degree Name

Master of Music

Department

Music

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Adams

Second Advisor

C. Curtis-Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Mattew Steel

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Showings is a setting of excerpts from the writings of Julian of Norwich, a 14th century anchoress and mystic. While in her middle life, Julian fell ill, and, during the course of her illness, she received sixteen revelations of the love of God. She recorded these showings in two texts: a short version, apparently written soon after her recovery, and a longer one, written years later after she had reflected on the meaning of her visions.

Within the frame of an exploration of Julian's experience of the humbling and generative power of divine love, Showings focuses on her questions concerning the nature of sin and salvation. Great care is used to delineate who is speaking in this ongoing dialog: the soprano soloist sings Julian's own words, choral unisons and soli sections are used for the words directly spoken to Julian by God in her visions, and choral writing in parts indicates Julian's expansions and interpretations of those divine replies. Instrumentally, much of the orchestration is drawn from the demonic fever Julian suffered before her final vision, which she describes as chattering, unintelligible conversations coming from all sides. This imagery inspired the rapid wind and string figurations and rattling, thumping percussion that persistently, but ultimately unsuccessfully, attempt to envelope the vocal lines.

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