O inexpressible mystery
SSAATBB and viola obbligato

Tawnie Olson
Tawnie Olson
Composition Date: 2009
Genre: Choral (9 + Voices), With Solo Instrument, , String(s) Bowed


Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Mixed chorus
  • 1 x Viola
Programme Note:
I first encountered the text of this piece in a Christmas card made by the Holy Myrrbearers Monastery, where it was mistakenly attributed to Gregory of Nyssa (an attribution repeated throughout the web, presumably by other recipients of their beautiful card). From my first reading, I was struck by the beauty and power of the text and wondered how I might set it to music. I had other projects to complete, however, and I set it aside for several years. It was not until the summer of 2009 that, exhausted by more than two years’ labour on my setting of the Seven Last Words from the Cross (which I had finished just in time for its performance by Camerata that April), I found myself wanting to write short pieces on more cheerful subjects. This text sprang immediately to mind.

Stylistically, this piece is quite different from anything I’d written before it, and from anything I’m likely to write again, but I hope it offers at least a faint echo of the deep beauty of Gregory of Nazianzus’ text.

Premiere Information:
04/12/2010 Battell Chapel (Yale University) New Haven, CT, USA Yale Camerata, Ellen Higham, viola Conductor: Marguerite Brooks


  • Call Number:
  • MV 6103 O52oin
  • Genre:
  • Choral (9 + Voices), With Solo Instrument, , String(s) Bowed
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • December 10, 2010
  • Type:
  • Print-music, published
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (5 p.) + 1 part (1 p.) ; 28 cm.
    5 Pages
    Height: 28 cm
    Width: 22 cm
    Parts page count: 1
  • Additional Information:
  • SSAATBB and viola obbligato
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  • Printed copies of this title are available from E.C. Schirmer Music Company. Please contact the publisher directly.
    Published by E.C. Schirmer Music Company
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