Stella Caeli

for unaccompanied SATB Choir

Choral Leaflet
In stock


Stella Caeli is a motet for unaccompanied SATB Choir. This work was commissioned by the Genesis Foundation, as a response to Walter Lambe’s setting of the same anonymous text, which is included in the Eton Choirbook. When composing the piece, I was struck by the nature of the text, which pleads both to the Virgin Mary and Jesus for salvation from the ‘deadly plague’ of sin. My way of embedding the text in the musical material was by creating a musical cryptogram of the words ‘Stella Caeli’. This motif can be heard in the opening bars of the piece, while also determining the large-scale harmonic structure of the piece.

I wanted to combine this large-scale musical form with a sense of dramatic narrative. I was drawn to the beginning of the third verse as a natural high point of tension (‘O glorious star of the sea come to save us from this plague’). For this section of the text, I wanted to create a texture in which all the voices of the choir come together to plead to the Virgin Mary (‘Hear us, for your son in respect’). This type of setting, which largely moves in chords, contrasts the reflective writing at the beginning of the piece. For the final two lines of the text, the smooth melismatic vocal lines are interspersed with a gradually descending chord pattern, and the built up energy of the climactic music dies down.

These two types of choral textures (horizontal melodic lines and vertical chord patterns) are used to great dramatic effect in Walter Lambe’s setting of this text. For example, the climax of Lambe’s piece arrives in the final couplet (‘Save us, Jesus’), as the use of block chords creates an arresting change of texture after a largely polyphonic writing. I wanted my piece to have a similar sense of arch narrative, flowing through the text in a single movement which encompasses both the meditative and dramatic aspects of each stanza.

I am very grateful to the Genesis Foundation for commissioning this piece, and to Harry Christophers and The Sixteen for giving the premiere at Eton College Chapel on 22nd May 2018.

- Marco Galvani

Additional Information

Item Number: EP73238
Format: Sheet Music
Number of Pages: 16
Publication Date: 02/11/2018
ISMN: 9790577015927
Format: 190 x 272
Voices: SATB
Instrumentation: SATB Choir
Language: Latin

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