VIDERUNT OMNES for radio. Commissioned by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the Millennium Project of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). 2000. It was produced as an animated music video in 2003 by Jacques Collin for Veronica Tennant's arts documentary film NORTHERN LIGHT. 5 minutes and 45 seconds.
Viderunt Omnes is the Canadian contribution to the multinational “Millennium Project”, a radio project of the European Broadcasting Union which has been initiated and is coordinated by musicologist Graham Dixon. The project, a celebration of 800 years of polyphony in the west, is an assembly of new works for various acoustic media—one entry from each participating country. The project guidelines stipulate that all national entries should be based on the organum ‘Viderunt Omnes’ by Perotin and that each entry should be roughly five minutes long. I was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) to compose the Canadian entry to the Millennium Project with no other stipulations than the ones already stated. My approach was to create a studio composition where the recording took place before the composition itself. CBC hired the Toronto Consort to record Perotin’s organum at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto's CBC Broadcast Centre before I embarked on the composition of the work. These recordings and samples taken from the consort were later combined with pre-existing recordings of katajjaq (throat games) by two Inuit throat singers (Angela Atagootak and Pauline Kyak) which CBC producer Keith Horner and I had made in Iqaluit, Baffin Island in 1995, and other distinctively ‘Canadian’ sounds, such as the sounds of the loons towards the end of the work.
The pervading image throughout the work is the bringing together of the colonial and native elements, the primary building blocks of Canada's culture, into a celebration of the 2000th birthday of Jesus of Nazareth (‘Viderunt Omnes’, a Christmas chant, as part of the Millennium Project will be broadcast by participating public radio networks around the world on the eve of New Year 2000.) Imagine a nativity scene in which the chanting angels are the singers of the chronologically and geographically distant 12th century Notre Dame Cathedral, while the shepherds are the natives of arctic Canada, the Inuit. This is the image which has inspired Viderunt Omnes, a utopian image perhaps, but then the historical interaction between the Europeans and the arctic natives of north America has been for the most part one of cooperation, not confrontation, unlike the relationship between the Europeans and the more southern natives of the American continent. Furthermore, present day Inuit culture is deeply Christian, in spite of its animistic origins. So this representation of the nativity scene as a virtual meeting place between two musical worlds that have not actually ‘met’ yet, is not as inappropriate as one might originally imagine.
Viderunt Omnes is dedicated to all those who view contemporary culture as the reflection of a borderless global human identity; a culture whose elements are constantly cross-referenced, but are never dominated or usurped by any particular contributor.
Premiere performance: December 31, 1999 around the world by all participating national radio networks, members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).
Television premiere: March 20, 2003 on the CBC Television program Opening Night.
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