Pamela Dellal, mezzo soprano


uncommon intelligence, imagination and textual awareness...



Motet Notes

John Harbison: "Charity Never Faileth"

Charity Never Faileth is the first section of “But Mary Stood”, composed for the
Cantata Singers in 2005.  The complete piece consists of two motets and a short
cantata, the latter centering on the role of Mary Magdalene after the burial of
Christ.  This role seems to be part of the significant emergence of women in
the latter part of the Book of John.  The two motets in the larger sequence
serve as commentary on the Magdalene narrative.  Charity embodies the favorite
Biblical text of Alice Pedersen, my mother in law, who was over one hundred
years old when the piece was composed.  Craig Smith, who knew Alice Pedersen
well, offered to do a recorded reading in an Emmmanuel Choir rehearsal, so that
she could hear the piece.  This transpired, an unnecessary strategy when she
lived to 104. Thus today's performance is the first at Emmanuel, but not the
first time heard within its walls.  The piece uses triads, perfect chords, as
symbols of Charity's persistence.

©John Harbison