Sacred Sonatas – Concert by Alex Vella Gregory

Date(s) - 23 Nov 2019

Sacred Sonatas Poster - AlexVellaGregory

Saturday 23 November 2019


Concert Hall, Palazzo de La Salle, Valletta

This piano recital presents two contemporary piano sonatas by composer Alexander VellaGregory. The recital features Piano Sonata No. 5 ‘Litanija’ (Litany) as well as the world premiere ofPiano Sonata No. 6 ‘Viżjonijiet’ (Visions). The two works both arise from Catholic theology andmysticism, using the piano sonata as a means for spiritual reflection. Both sonatas explore a veryparticular form of the genre – the sonata as a spiritual meditation. They are a continuation ofBiber’s Rosary Sonatas (1676) and Messiaen’s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (1944) – works inwhich religious symbolism is transformed into musical symbolism.

Sonata No. 5 (2013) is a work in twelve short movements, with each movement exploring a titlegiven to the Virgin Mary in the Litany of Loreto (hence the title ‘Litany’). The work abounds withsymbolic gestures from the mirror-image first movement (Speculum Iustitiae – Mirror of Justice), tothe white-note harmony of the sixth movement (Turris Eburnea – Ivory Tower), and the grandiosefinale that brings all the elements together.

Sonata No. 6 (2019) is the first in a projected series of three sonatas that explore Dominicanspirituality. This project stems from the composer’s own personal contact with the Dominicancommunity in Valletta, both through family ties as well as through research. The project will seefour four-movement sonatas. Each sonata explores the lives of three Dominican saints, with thefourth movement dedicated to St Dominic being common to all four works.

The first sonata of the series examines three Dominican female saints, all three of whom weregreat mystics, hence the title ‘Visions’. The three saints in question are St Agnes of Montepulcianowho received communion from an angelic visitation for nine consecutive Sundays, St Rose ofLima who experienced paralysis as part of a spiritual experience, and St Catherine of Siena, oneof the most incredible women of her age who experienced divine ecstasy. Each movement takesthe form of an ‘Etude’ – a form that allows the investigation and transformation of a musical idea.The fourth movement is dedicated to St Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers.

The recital will be performed by the composer himself (pictured below). The event will be a ticketed event open to the public with tickets sold at the door.

Sacred Sonatas - AlexVellaGregory