Canto in modo Nono


24 Voices (6 x 4), every voice a small instrument

UA: 10/2/1992, , Nederlands Kamerkoor; Dir.: Huub Kerstens

CD: Netherlands Chamber Choir, NM Classics 92025 (CNM) (CD 1993)

Performer(s) : Het Nederlands Kamerkoor, Huub Kerstens

CANTO IN MODO NONO: In the autumn of 1961, the Italian composer Sylvano Bussotti sent me a copy of Canti, poems one of the most important Italian lyric poets of the Romantic aera, Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837).

Although I was immediately tempted to set my favourite Canti poem to music, nothing came out of it. In some cases it takes me a quarter of a century for my vocal compositional ideas to come to fruition. – As I had been a close friend of Luigi Nono since 1961, his death was finally the reason to compose that Canto. Nono’s great love for Hölderlin found its musical expression in his string quartet. I decided to answer this intimate relationship by finally honoring Giacomo Leopardi, my Italian favourite.

In tribute to Nono, I based CANTO IN MODO NONO on Nono’s favourite tone row, a 12-tone series he had used since the late 1950s. I use this series in a modal manner in which smaller motifs from this 12-tone constellation are presented and used as independent musical elements.CANTO IN MODO NONO is based on my personal interpretation of the methods of serial music.

While I was working on the composition, another dear friend of mine, Fokke Procée passed away, thus I dedicated the piece to him.

As I have an aversion to the overwhelming sound of large choirs, I opted for a smaller group. CANTO IN MODO NONO uses a 24-voice choir split into six madrigal groups of four voices, standing in a half-circle formation. Every singer has a small instrument (percussion, some mouth organs) adding specific coloristic or ‘arabesque’ accents to the vocal intonations. CANTO IN MODO NONO was composed in 1990-1991 for the Netherlands Chamber Choir. It was recorded on June 30 and July 1, 1992 (conductor: Huub Kerstens). The first public performances took place on February 10, 11 and 12 in Amsterdam and Breda.

You can download the score here: CantoModoNo.pdf