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  Halley's Comment • letters and essays
 
 
 



Paul Halley
MA (Cantab.)
FRCO
ARCT

      
Grammy-winning 
composer,
conductor,
performer


Co-Founder and
Creative Director
Pelagos Incorporated

Owner and
Artist/Composer
Back Alley Music

Director of Music
University of
King's College Chapel
Halifax, Nova Scotia

University Musician
Atlantic School
of Theology
Halifax, Nova Scotia
 

 


Recent

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Paul Halley’s letter to the audience in the program notes for the
King’s at the Cathedral Series: “For All The Saints” concert
featuring Pierre de la Rue's
"Requiem".

The Chapel Choir of the University of King’s College with Ensemble Regale 
Cathedral of All Saints, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 4:00 pm (In the Octave of All Saints) 

Dear Friends, 

Here we are again, back in the Cathedral for our 6th annual concert commemorating all the saints. Over these years we have presented settings of the Requiem by Fauré, Duruflé, Schnittke and Victoria as well as Rachmaninov’s Vespers. We have sung texts from the fifth to the twenty-first centuries set to music by composers as stylistically diverse as Josquin and Pärt. Given such a range of repertoire, and the generally positive response from our audiences, it seems odd that I would have any hesitation about presenting today’s centrepiece, the Requiem composed by Pierre de la Rue at the end of the 15th century. After all, two years ago I programmed the Requiem by Alfred Schnittke, perhaps the wildest setting in existence, and the response was pretty favourable, with comments about the courage involved in bringing such avant-garde music to Halifax, and the surprising beauty found in the midst of great anguish. 

But for all the challenges of that piece, I had no doubt that it would speak to people. In the letter to the audience that year I wrote, “Schnittke’s Requiem comes from a time in his life when he was trying to counter the chatter and noise of the world around him with almost primal screams, using all the resources at hand to create music that demanded our attention; that shouted down the innocuous and meaningless.” Schnittke’s world is our world. The world of De la Rue is another thing altogether. And the question is not so much whether the music of De la Rue can still speak to us as whether we still have the ears to hear it. 

I have recently read “The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity” by Robert Louis Wilken. I was constantly reminded of the considerable cultural gap that exists between us and the people of the first millennium. For them the veil between heaven and earth was thin. Theirs was a more precarious existence. Questions of life and death seemed to have been part of daily conversation. Philosophy mattered, and miracles happened. So while the people of late antiquity and medieval times were lacking appropriate dental plans and adequate cell phone coverage, they did have the benefit of living in a culture that, partly from sheer necessity, emphasized the eternal over the ephemeral. The title “Requiem” comes from the opening words of the Introit, “rest eternal”, two words that seem to fly in the face of contemporary culture. Whatever our culture emphasizes, rest and things eternal don’t seem to enter into it. In preparing Pierre de la Rue’s Requiem I was made aware of how much closer the sensibility of his time was to the first millennium than to our day. If eternal rest can be expressed in music, this Requiem may be the nearest thing. 

Wilken writes, “In the generation of Boethius and Cassiodorus the challenge was no longer how to transform what had been received; it was rather to preserve and transmit what was forgotten.” I think the same challenge may be facing us today. We hear about the loss of species. We must also deal with our loss of memory. We must also recognize what has been forgotten. I believe Pierre de la Rue’s Requiem is one of those great works of art that has the capacity to stir the memory, to move us towards recovering something of what has been lost. It requires us to put aside our demands for the novel, the sensational and the ephemeral in order to rediscover our hunger for the eternal. This music quietly allows us “to enter into that gate and dwell in that house, where there shall be no darkness, nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise, nor silence, but one equal music.” 

I am very thankful for your presence here today. 

Yours, 

Paul

 
       
      Previous articles
Click on item below to link to PDF and read:
 

"For All The Saints 2012"
November 4, 2012 - Halifax, NS
Paul Halley's note to the audience
in the concert programme booklet
Letter to the audience for
King’s at the Cathedral Series
“For All The Saints 2012” concert
featuring
"Requiem Mass"
by Alfred Schnittke,
November 4, 2012

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"For All The Saints 2011"
November 6, 2011 - Halifax, NS
Paul Halley's note to the audience
in the concert programme booklet

Letter to the audience for
King’s at the Cathedral Series
“For All The Saints 2011” concert
featuring "All-Night Vigil" (Vespers)
by Rachmaninov.
November  6, 2011


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"For All The Saints 2010"
November 3, 2010 - Halifax, NS
Paul Halley's note to the audience
in the concert programme booklet

Letter to the audience for
King’s at the Cathedral Series
“For All The Saints 2010” concert
featuring ‘The Requiem’ by Maurice Durufle.
November 3, 2010


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"Pipes Around the Pacific
Orgues Autour du Pacifique"

Paul Halley delivers the Keynote Address
to the Plenary Session of the
Royal Canadian College of Organists
2010 Convention, Victoria, BC
July 18-22, 2010, Victoria BC, Canada
Address "
The Examined Life" by Paul Halley

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“A King's Christmas 2009”
featuring
The Chapel Choir
of the University of King’s College
with
special guest, Suzie LeBlanc, soloist
and Dr. Neil Robertson, narrator.
Cathedral of All Saints, Halifax, Nova Scotia
December 13, 2009

Paul Halley’s letter to the audience
in the program notes for A King's Christmas 2009


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"For All The Saints 2009"
November 7, 2009 - Halifax, NS
Paul Halley's note to the audience
in the concert programme booklet

Letter to the audience for
King’s at the Cathedral Series
“For All The Saints 2009” concert
featuring ‘The Requiem’ by Gabriel Faure.
November 7, 2009

_____________________________________
Paul Halley reviews the program,
thanks the choir and his new assistant, Nick Halley,
and describes things to come at St. George's...
all with his inimitable humor.

Annual Report of The Director of Music
to St. George’s Anglican Church, Halifax, NS
January 26th, 2009
    

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"A King's Christmas"
December 12 and 14, 2008 - Halifax, NS
Paul Halley's note to the audience
in the concert programme booklet
Remarks in 'A King's Christmas'
programme booklet
December 12 & 14, 2008


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"A musician's Remembrance Day quandary"
Paul Halley,  in a recent interview with Paul McLeod
of
METRO HALIFAX, November 10, 2008.

Interview with Metro Halifax
St. George's Anglican Church
November 10th, 2008
 

_____________________________________
In his report to the annual meeting
of King's College Chapel, Halifax,
Paul Halley describes his first year on the job.


Report Of The Director Of Music
King’s College Chapel
April 10th, 2008


_____________________________________
Many of you continue to ask what prompted
Paul Halley's move to Halifax in 2007, and you
may have enjoyed Paul's rather hilarious
description of his first year on the job as
Director of Chapel Music at
the University of King's College.

Here is a transcription of Paul's interview
with Jonathan Bruhm,
Communications Director at King's,
January 2007, on precisely that question.



Paul Halley: An interview with Jonathan Bruhm,
Communications Director,

University of King's College, Halifax
, NS
January 9, 2007
 


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  Halley's Comment • letters and essays