Tuesday, 25 January 2011

'You start Saul, and end up Paul'

I recently found a choral piece based on the story of Saul's conversion by the contemporary American composer Z. Randall Stroope. 'The Conversion of Saul' is set for double choir and is an impressive concert piece. The recording linked to here is one of the better ones (there are a few pre-recorded versions, but the videos are a little full-on...) 

The opening section of Stroope's piece evokes Saul's relentless persecution of the Christians. The choir sings 'Caedite, vexate, ligate vinculis!' Vinculis, condemnate vexate! (Saul! Murder, harass, bind into chains! Saul! Chain, prosecute and harass!). The tight rhythms of the repetitive chanting and percussive foot-stamping are swiftly, though gently replaced by the more sustained second section in which we hear  the  words 'Why do you persecute me, Saul? Why? Fall down on your knees, turn hatred into love. Turn darkness into light. Bow down, Saul! Bow down, Saul!'

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