15 December 1996 “The Great ‘O’ Antiphons”

R.M. Campbell, Music Critic, Seattle P-I, December, 1996

Music Review

St. James’ Opus 7 rings crisp and clear with ‘Antiphons’

On Sunday night, Opus 7 widened its horizons and moved across eight centuries. The illuminating concert focused on various settings of the seven “Great ‘O’ Antiphons,” Gregorian chants meant to be sung during Advent.

The centerpiece of the concert was the premiere of John Muehleisen’s “The Great ‘O’ Antiphons,” in which the seven medieval chants, in Latin, are paired with the composer’s chants set to the same text, sung in English. The result was fascinating, underscoring the relevance and suitability of some contemporary music to the church. Nearly always the work is compelling, aided, of course, by St. James’ remarkable acoustics.

Muehleisen’s palette is varied and rang tellingly throughout the church. Individual voices are given welcome prominence along with the full ensemble of some 16 singers.

Opus 7 is an excellent, highly disciplined ensemble with keen ears, marvelous balance and ardent musicality.

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