O Magnum Mysterium

Program Notes:

Swiss composer Antognini pays homage to Bach in this simple work for choir, cello, and keyboard.

Conductor Notes:

This elegant motet for two-part treble choir, cello obbligato and keyboard is a tribute to Bach. We rehearsed this with piano but when the cellist began rehearsing with us, we felt a simple organ texture would allow the cello line to speak more clearly. There is also an a cappella version of the piece for SATB choir.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

O Magnum Mysterium is a brief but powerful piece that I wrote for a small church choir directed by my wife, Patrizia, for Christmas of 2010. It was meant as a gift for these good people that came once a week to prepare Christmas songs. The piece should have stayed in the drawer until the following Christmas. However, even during the first rehearsals I noted that the choristers showed a great enthusiasm in singing this composition of mine. Because of this, during the year that followed, I decided to show it to other well–known choirs. To my great surprise, the celebrated Vancouver Chamber Choir agreed to perform the world premiere of the piece in October 2011. A month later, another excellent Canadian ensemble, the Elektra Women’s Choir, premiered the version for two equal voices, cello and organ, which I had prepared in the meantime. Many other performances followed in various parts of the world. I would like to mention a magnificent interpretation of my piece by the East Carolina University Chamber Singers, conducted by Andrew Crane and another one with Calicantus Children’s Choir, conducted by Mario Fontana. The work is divided into three parts: the first, in a major key, with the four voices that combine, follow, and chase one another to announce the great mystery of the birth of Christ. The second part is in a minor key, and has a darker, melancholy color, and introduces us to the third, conclusive section. The final Alleluja is in mixolydian mode, and has a triumphant and luminous character, but the brief coda brings us back into a more intimate and tranquil climate.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.





O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum ut animalia viderent Dominum natum jacentem in praesepio.


O great mystery and wonderful sacrament that animals should see the new-born Lord lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!