Dedell explores ‘the color of sound’ in ‘The Great O Antiphons’
Susan Dedell

Dedell explores ‘the color of sound’ in ‘The Great O Antiphons’

BRATTLEBORO — On Sunday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m., at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, Susan Dedell leads a group of 28 singers in The Great O Antiphons: An Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols.

This much-anticipated yearly event includes choral music, readings, and group singing, and this year incorporates the seven Gregorian O Antiphons into the program.

Music director Susan Dedell said in a news release that “these seven chants are some of the oldest known written music, dating from at least the 6th century, if not earlier. They are unworldly in their effect, inviting those who sing them and all who hear them to enter a world of mystery and possibility.”

Compositions by Ivo Antognini, Will Todd, Peter Relph, Ola Gjeilo, and Keith Getty will be interlaced with the chants and readings to create a truly magical space for reflection.

The chants are called the O Antiphons because each one begins with the word “O,” followed by a word or group of words that form one of the many names of God.

“I find it fascinating that these names are not only non-gendered, they are conceptual - as in 'wisdom' or 'root,”' Dedell says. “Each chant lasts about a minute. To me, that is a minute of perfection!”

Contrasting to the single strand of sound that these unison chants create, the choral music that will be sung expands to multi-part harmony and, in one case, to overlapping waves of pitch generated uniquely by each individual singer.

“Of course I love all of this music,” Dedell says, “but I'm particularly fascinated by exploring the color of sound that is made when a perfect unison is achieved; or the vibrational energy that happens when certain pitches are laid on top of each other. You can actually feel the air vibrate!”

The program lasts about an hour. St. Michael's Episcopal Church is located at the corner of Bradley Avenue and Putney Road, and is fully accessible.

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