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Tavener, (Sir) John (Kenneth)

Tavener, (Sir) John (Kenneth) (b London, 1944). Eng. composer and organist. Org., St John's, Kensington, 1960. Prof. of mus., TCL, 1969–74. Mus. of rich imaginative and eclectic resource and of profound religious spirit, as in Ultimos ritos and Celtic Requiem, in which children's games are linked to the idea of death. Convert to Gr. Orthodox Church. Knighted 2000. Prin. works:OPERAS & MUSIC THEATRE: The Cappemakers (1965, rev. of 1964 choral work, see below); Thérèse (1973–6); A Gentle Spirit (after Dostoyevsky), sop., ten., small ens. (1976–7); Eis Thanaton (1986); Mary of Egypt (1991).ORCH.: pf. conc. (1962–3); chamber conc. (1965, rev. 1968); Grandma's Footsteps, 5 mus. boxes, chamber ens. (1967–8); Variations on 3 Blind Mice (1972); Palintropos, pf., orch. (1978–9); Towards the Son: Ritual Procession, tb., 4 gongs, 4 bowed psalteries, perc., str. (1982); The Protecting Veil, vc., str. (1987); The Repentant Thief, cl., perc., timp., str. (1990); Eternal Memory, vc., ens. (1992); Theophany, str., ww., alto fl., brass, perc. (1994).SOLOIST(S), CHORUS, & ORCH.: The Cappemakers, 2 narr., 10 soloists, male ch., orch. (1964, rev. for stage 1965); The Whale, mez., bar., ch., children's ch., speaker, 6 actors, org., orch., tape (1965–6); Introit for March 27, the Feast of St John Damascene, sop., alto, ch., orch. (1967–8); Nomine Jesu, mez., ch., ens., 5 speaking vv. (1970); Responsorium in memory of Annon Lee Silver, 2 sop., ch., 2 fl. (opt.) (1971); Ultimos Ritos, SATB soloists, ch., 5 spkrs., orch. (1972); Kyklike Kineēsis, sop., vc., ch., pf., str. (1977); Akhmatova: Requiem, sop., bar., orch. (1979–80); Akathist of Thanksgiving, soloists, ch., bells, str. (1986–7); Ikon of St Seraphim, bar., 4 bass, ch., orch. (1988); Resurrection, soloists and actors, ch., male ch., orch. (1989); We Shall See Him As He Is, sop., ten., ch., org., 2 tpt., timp., str. (1991–2); Hymns of Paradise, bass, ch., str. (1992–3); The Apocalypse, sop., mez., ten., counterten., treble, bass, ch., children's ch., orch. (1993–4).SOLO VOICE(S) & INSTR(S).: 3 Holy Sonnets (John Donne), bar., small orch., tape (1962); Cain and Abel, SATB soloists, orch. (1965); 3 Surrealist Songs, mez., tape, pf. (1967–8); In Alium, sop., org., pf., str. (1968); Celtic Requiem, sop., ch., children's ch., ens. (1969); Canciones espan˜olas, 2 sop. or counterten., 2 fl., org., hpd. (1972); Requiem for Father Malachy, 2 counterten., ten., 2 bar., bass, ens., org., str. qt. (1973, rev. 1979); 6 Russian Folk Songs, v., ens. (1978); The Immurement of Antigone, sop., orch. (1978); 6 Abbasid Songs, ten., 3 fl., alto fl. (1979); Sappho: Lyrical Fragments, 2 sop., str. (1980); To a Child Dancing in the Wind, sop., fl., hp., va. (1983); 16 Haiku of Seferis, sop., ten., handbells, str. (1984); Meditation on the Light, counterten., gui., handbells (1986); The Child Lived, sop., ens. (1992); Akhmatova Songs (new vers.), sop., ens. (1995).CHORUS (unacc. except where indicated): Coplas, SATB soloists, ch., tape (1970); Ma fin est mon commencement, 4-part ten. ch., 4 tb., 4 vc. (1972); Canticle of the Mother of God, sop., ch. (1976); The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (1978); Risen! ch., pf., org., str. (1981); Prayer for the World (1981); Funeral Ikos (1981); The Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete (1981); Doxa (1982); Lord's Prayer (1982); The Lamb (1982); He hath entered the Heven, trebles, opt. handbells (1982); Ikon of Light, ch., str. trio (1984); Orthodox Vigil Service, ch., handbells (1984); A Nativity, women's ch. (1984); Angels, ch., org. (1985); Love bade me welcome (1985); 2 Hymns to the Mother of God (1985); Panikhida (1986); Ikon of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne (1986); Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (1986); Wedding Prayer (1987); Many Years (1987); Acclamation (1987); God is with us, ch., org. (1987); Hymn to the Holy Spirit (1987); The Tyger (1987); Apolytikion for St Nicholas (1988); The Call (1988); Let not the Prince be silent, 2 ch. (1988); The Uncreated Eros (1988); Lament of the Mother of God, sop., ch. (1988); Today the Virgin (1989); Eonia (1989); Psalm 121 (1989); Thunder entered her, ch., org., male ch., handbells (1990); Ikon of the Trinity (1990); Do not move on (1990); A Christmas Round (1990); Ikon of the Nativity (1991); A Village Wedding (1992); Wedding Greeting, ten., ch. (1992).CHAMBER MUSIC: In memoriam Igor Stravinsky, 2 alt. fl., org., handbells (1971); Greek Interlude, fl., pf. (1979); Trisagion, brass quintet (1981); Little Missenden Calm, ob., cl., bn., hn. (1984); Chant, gui. (1984); The Hidden Treasure, str. qt. (1989); Thrinos, vc. (1990); The Last Sleep of the Virgin, str. qt., handbells (1991).VOICE & PIANO: 3 Sections from T. S. Eliot's ‘The Four Quartets’, v. (1963–4); Lamentation, Last Prayer, and Exaltation, sop., handbells or pf. (1977); Mini-Song Cycle for Gina, sop. (1984); Prayer (for Szymanowski), bass (1987).PIANO: Palin (1977; expanded as Palintropos with orch.); My Grandfather's Waltz, pf. duet (1980); Mandoodles (1982); In memory of cats (1986).ORGAN: Mandelion (1981).

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Tavener, Sir John Kenneth

Sir John Kenneth Tavener (tăv´ənər, –nə), 1944–2013, English composer, b. London; studied Royal Academy of Music. Tavener, whose work shows a consistent but evolving tonal or modal style and often a marked simplicity and spirituality, is known principally for his requiems, canticles, hymns, and liturgical cantatas, which he called "icons with notes rather than colors." Largely slow-moving, intense, and accessible to a wide audience, his music was influenced by the tonal system of the Orthodox Church (he joined the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977) and by various traditional styles including Indian ragas, Byzantine chants, Middle Eastern works, and Native American music. His compositions also have close ties to Eastern European minimalism and are part of a mystical strain that also marks the work of such composers as Arvo Pärt, Henryk Górecki, and Giya Kancheli.

Tavener first came to wide public attention with his composition The Whale (1968), which employs a collage of prerecorded tape, amplified percussion, and chorus. After a comparatively dry period in the 1970s during which he listened to and absorbed many kinds of music, he developed a new musical style that emphasized the mystical and the sacred, and his work flourished during the 1980s and 90s. Among his best-known works are Orthodox Vigil Service (1984), for chorus and handbells; The Protecting Veil (1987), a cello concerto; Akathist of Thanksgiving (1987), for soloists, chorus, strings, and timpini; the opera Mary of Egypt (1991); Song for Athene (1993), for choir; and Total Eclipse (1999), a cantata scored for vocal soloists, boys' choir, baroque instruments, brass, Tibetan bowls, and timpani. The Veil of the Temple (2003) is a seven-hour musical vigil that draws on Christian traditions of the East and West and is performed by a large chorus, vocal soloists, organ, brass and percussion ensembles, Tibetan horn, temple bowls, and Indian harmonium. Tavener was knighted in 2000.

See his The Music of Silence—A Composer's Testament (2000); biography by G. Haydon (1995).

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