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February 3 , 2011

Officium: the next wave

“I sat mesmerised by the four singers of the Hilliard Ensemble, accompanied by the Norwegian jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek as they performed in the soaring, vaulted spaces of King's College Chapel. It's hard to think of music more suited to the age of austerity: a soundtrack to snow, heartbreak, devotion and sacrifice…The five performers used the chapel's acoustic to its utmost limit, processing serenely up and down the aisles so the notes eddied around it. The response was rapturous. This was serious – but astonishingly beautiful – music for serious times.” Rowan Pelling’s review, in the UK’s Telegraph, of the English premiere of “Officium Novum” was characteristic of the overwhelmingly positive reactions to this unique music, which packed the churches of Europe last autumn.

2011 will be another big year for Garbarek and the Hilliards, with more than fifty concerts already scheduled. The new tour kicks off in Rostock, Germany, on February 9, and the months ahead will find the singers and the saxophonist in the cathedrals, churches and monasteries of Latvia, England, Ireland,. Austria, Italy, Spain, Norway, France and Switzerland. For more details, visit our tour pages, and also www.officium–novum.de or download the "Tour Flyer" as pdf.

“Officium Novum is the third panel in a golden triptych; this set emphasises music of Eastern Europe, both ancient and modern but all ritualistic: dusky Byzantine chant, haunted Armenian melodies vua Kimitas Vardapet. The austerity brings out the best in Garbarek, his free arabesques on tenor and soprano saxes sounding as if he were coaxing spirits from monastery walls.” – Bradley Bambarger, The Star Ledger