bet ammanuel (2015)

For four solo voices (SATB)

Written for: EXAUDI Vocal Ensemble

Programme Note:

bet ammanuel is a rock-hewn church, one of eleven such churches at the Lalibela World Heritage site in Ethiopia. The text of bet ammanuel is phonetic, although restricted almost exclusively to the linguistic sounds found in Amharic – the language spoken in the Lalibela region of Ethiopia.

The piece, scored for four solo voices, presents a processional series of five texturally defined ‘panels’, abruptly juxtaposed without transition (although all sharing melodic and harmonic characteristics). Crucially however, these five static panels are only ever presented through a secondary layer – or veil – of far more unpredictable materials (present consistently throughout the entire piece). In the composing process, the two layers were allowed to collide, the music that is heard becoming a hybrid of the two. As the veil infected the panels beneath, new gestures (not originally present in the panels) were allowed to form, some unique to their context, some appearing again and again throughout the piece. In a sense, the once clearly distinct five sections are now hazed and blurred together – the processes of infection and corruption now serving to bind them together.


bet ammanuel was written for EXAUDI as part of collaboration with the University of Huddersfield in April 2012.


Approximately 8 minutes

Score Excerpt: