Composer brings a little of Hollywood to Christian texts

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MILLER: Will premiere a new body of work May 8.

Come to the Cathedral of St. John at Evensong for a taste of Hollywood on Mother’s Day.

Composer-in-residence Aaron David Miller will premiere his “Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis” at 3 p.m. May 8. The 40-minute service focuses on the music. There is no sermon or communion.

The commission marks the 10th anniversary of the first cathedral commission in 2006.

“The music Aaron has written for us is visceral, it’s infectious,” said Maxine Thévenot, the cathedral’s music director and organist. “It’s a little bit ‘Star Wars,’ a little bit ‘Harry Potter.’ There’s a little bit of Hollywood music in there and it works.”

Music director at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, Miller is a former colleague of Thévenot’s at the Manhattan School of Music.

“I think it’s really important that we sing music of our times and that we’re active creators of music,” said Thévenot, who directs the cathedral’s 43-member choir.

The commission began with the ancient biblical text “The Magnificat” and its modern-day version from the Book of Common Prayer. The singers perform a more contemporary version of the text.

The cathedral has commissioned works by various composers.

“It’s an opportunity to collaborate with other musicians around the world,” Thévenot said. “It promotes a sense of growth and creativity.”

Commissions also create a legacy, she added. Many of the world’s greatest composers, Bach, Handel and Mozart, to name a few, wrote music on commission.

“If we didn’t have patrons back in the 16th and 17th century, where would we be today?” she asked.

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