Creatio Continua (2017)
William David Cooper, b. 1986
I. Entrée - In Principio
II. Male solo - Verbum
III. Female solo - Spiritus
IV. Pas de deux - Justitia et Sanctificatio
V. Finale - Creatio Continua
Ballet for the Saint Peter's Bach Collegium Period Orchestra with original choreography by Roberto Lara, director.
Commissioned by Saint Peter's Church for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
Filmed on October 28, 2017, part of the Saint Peter's Church Gala Concert commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
DancersAbril Anchondo (Soloist)
Long Zou (Soloist)
The Saint Peter's Bach Collegium
Bálint Karosi, Conductor & Artistic Director
Cantor of Saint Peter's Church
Baroque Violins: Aby Karr, Jeremy Rhizor, Francis Liu, Jude Ziliak
Baroque Viola: Kyle Miller
Baroque Cello: Ana Kim
Baroque Oboes & da Caccias: Julie Brye, Caroline Giassi
Baroque Trumpet: Steven Marquard
Baroque Bassoon: Allan Hamrick
Baroque Bass: Dara Bloom
Harpsichord: James Kennerly
Organ: William David Cooper
NotesCreatio Continua explores the journey from conflict to communion-in some sense takes a look into the past and presents a hopeful vision of the future we would like to see in the church universal. This is a contemporary ballet piece showing the relationship between two groups of dancers, each one repre-sented by particular choreographic motifs. The structure of the piece follows the general outline of a Bach cantata the
dance can be described as follows:
In the Entrée (In Principio) group of dancers is following the same choreography when sudden-ly, a female soloist starts creating a new style based on the opening dance, but with signifi-cant changes; some of the dancers from the remaining group realize this "new" way of move-ment and follow the lead dancer. This movement finishes with a gentle yet noticeable tension between the two groups.
The Male Variation (Verbum) is a solo performed by the lead dancer from the group of dancers following the original style. This variation intends to represent the choreographic identity of that group of dancers. The Female Variation (Spiritus) is a solo performed by the female lead dancer, also representing a similar-but significantly different-choreographic identity, when compared with the original style. In the Pas de Deux (Justitia et Sanctificatio) two dancers (a female and a male dancer from each group) start a dance conversation represented by the du-et. In the Finale (Creatio Continua) both groups engage in a peaceful conversation, dancing in a coordinated choreographic structure that respects their mutual differences.
From the beginning, William and I had a very similar idea of the structure we wanted this piece to follow, which follows a rhetorical structure as reference above: In Principio-Verbum-Spiritus-Creatio-Justitia et Sanctificatio and Creatio Continua. Pastor Stahler was extremely helpful in supporting us to find a rhetorical form that could work for both forms of art without getting into a deep narrative structure, but rather keeping an abstract approach. After we es-tablished the message that we were trying to model with this collaboration, we started the creation process separately and then began putting the pieces together via videos and Skype conferences. The individual results have been encouraging and cohesive, even though both processes have been created independently. I attribute this success to having a common idea of the message that this piece is trying to convey. For me, this collaboration truly represents the mystery of creation that one can experience with creative art.
- Roberto Lara, choreographer
As a composer, when I think of the Reformation, what comes to mind are the important litur-gical and musical reforms that led to the Lutheran
Chorales and culminated in the music of Bach. Perhaps the most famous and characteristic example of the new congregational hymn was Luther's Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, A mighty fortress is our God. In the music to our ballet, I took Luther's hymn and Bach's compositional techniques as starting points, but in keeping with Roberto and my abstract approach to the narrative of the piece, I chose to de-construct the chorale, obscuring it, transforming it, and viewing it from a new vantage point. In this way, it is a starting point from which we may reflect upon the Reformation and ask what it can mean to us today.
The Entrée: (In Principio) is a chorale fantasia, in which the chorale appears in the trumpet and oboes above an energetic, ostinato-driven texture in the rest of the orchestra. In the next two movements the chorale becomes much more abstracted and hidden from the surface. The first variation (Verbum) is a fast, athletic movement, while the second (Spiritus) is a slower, more contemplative piece that paraphrases the last phrase of the chorale. The Pas de Deux (Justitia et Sanctificatio) is a fugal chorale prelude very much in the style of Bach, but with a completely modern, pointillistic orchestration. The final
movement, Finale (Creatio Continua) is a fast, joyful and celebratory piece in which Luther's melody is present only in the most abstract way. An energetic, jubilant theme alternates with a chorale of my own invention. Bits and pieces of the first four movements gradually are woven into the fabric of the chorale in its final iteration, as it rushes to an uplifting conclusion.
- William Cooper, composer