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Program note: Omaggio alla pieta: Mary Finsterer

  • Sydney Spring
  • Source: Sydney Spring International Festival of New Music 13 - 24 1993

MARY FINSTERER Omaggio alla pietà (1993)
Like Stephen Cronin's work, Omaggio alla Pietà (heard hear in a slightly reduced instrumentation) was originally written for Sydney Metropolitan Opera's Via Crucis Australia performance, where it formed the music for the 13th  station (Jesus is Taken Down from The Cross). The text is by Melbourne poet Jacinta la Plastrier.

Each of the singers and instrumentalists in Omaggio alla Pietà has a specific musical and symbolic role.
The contralto (representing the Mary) is the main actor: sombre, focussed on her role as Mother of the Redeemer  (and thus Co-Redeemer), and uninfluenced by the music around her. As her vocal line rises, it does so, Finsterer's words ",not as an involuntary action of pain, but through a controlled will to express". The reflection of Mary's more human aspects - her joy and suffering - is entrusted to the two sopranos; the three male voice parts, which use fragments of the Victimae paschale chant are celebratory in a largely institutional, depersonalised way. This aspect of the work is reinforced by tubular bells; the rest of the percussion has a quite different role: it represents an earthy, tribal consciousness,a response to death in which institutions play no role.

" l used to love playing, and having all those notes under my fingers. But I just couldn't get inside the sound, so I thought, "Damn it, I'll write the music myself"'.