The Gift
An a cappella reverie for mixed chorus of the traditional Musica Dei Donum Optimi text, combining Latin and English languages in a macaronic setting.

Duration: 4' 30"
Difficulty: 4/5

Click here to view score.

Mixed Chorus (a cappella, divisi, no solos)
“Commissioning a composer that regularly attends our de Angelis concerts is an absolute luxury. JAC draws from both the capacity and the unique sound of the ensemble. The generous acoustical qualities of the Basilica also figure largely in this composition as heard in the opening reiterations of the word ‘music.’ JAC has layered in periods of silence following these invocations and throughout the work, which allow the sensuous chords to float through the Basilica. . . . Beneath the dedication of the work to the ensemble JAC writes ‘a reverie for mixed chorus’ branding the work as a dreamy meditation or fanciful musing.” (Matthew Gray, Artistic Director, de Angelis Vocal Ensemble, from the program notes for the premiere performance.)
Original Latin Text

Musica Dei donum optimi
trahit homines, trahit deos;
Musica truces mollit animos
tristesque mentes erigit
Musica vel ipsas arbores
et horridas movet feras.

English Text
Translation by J.A.C. Redford

Music, gift of the most glorious God,
draws men, draws gods;
Music calms savage souls
and lifts up sorrowful minds.
Music stirs even the very trees
and the frightful beasts.

Copyright 2012 by J.A.C. Redford. Used by permission.
Commission & Performance History
The Gift was commissioned by southern California’s de Angelis Vocal Ensemble and its Artistic Director, Matthew Gray, and was premiered on 10 March 2012 in the Mission Basilica of San Juan Capistrano. Peter Rutenberg, Music Director of Los Angeles Chamber Singers & Cappella, subsequently included the work among his Hidden Gems: A Treasure Trove of Recent Choral Riches in a presentation to Chorus America at its Minneapolis conference on 14 June 2012. Dale Warland heard the work there and opted to publish it in 2013 as part of his series for G. Schirmer. The Gift was performed by Pacific Lutheran University’s Choir of the West, under the direction of Richard Nance, as part of its 2013 Winter Tour repertoire.

Watch a performance on YouTube