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Psalmus XXVII

Psalmus XXVII, written in 2002, embraces broad historic strata of liturgical music, ranging from Gregorian chant and Medieval organum to the multi-layered polyphony of Renaissance and Baroque. The piece weaves traditional music idioms with contemporary harmonic and contrapuntal techniques.The density of choral texture fluctuates between ascetic monophony and massive pyramids constructed of sixteen independent vocal lines.


The primary Biblical text guides the emotional development of the music from the opening section’s meditative trance, followed by passionate supplication leading to the ecstatic climax, and dissolving in transparent radiance of the coda.

Even though the literary source is the Old Testament, this music is permeated with a Christian spirit.


Composing this piece, I was envisioning a very early Christian era, possibly the 1st or the 2nd century A.D., and I saw in my imagination a sacred ritual in Roman catacombs, performed by a sect, by outcasts, by those, who were ready to sacrifice their lives for the idea of salvation, and most likely would end their lives in the arena of the Coliseum or on a cross.

Asceticism and passion merging into an indivisible spiritual crystal, present in different proportions in every note - this, I believe, is the key to the figurative world of the piece.

Psalmus has been performed by:

  • The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. 

  • King's Chapel Choir.

© 2020 Yakov Gubanov