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"For centuries, composers have been inspired by the beautiful 'O Magnum Mysterium' text depicting the birth of the new-born King amongst the lowly animals and shepherds. This affirmation of God's grace to the meek and the adoration of the Blessed Virgin are celebrated in my setting through a quiet song of profound inner joy.
The original choral version of 'O Magnum Mysterium' was commissioned by Marshall Rutter in honor of his wife, Terry Knowles, and premiered December 18, 1994 by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, conducted by Paul Salamunovich, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The version for voice and piano was premiered on November 22, 1999, by soprano Jama Laurend with the composer at the piano.
Soprano Jane Thorngren, accompanied by the composer, has recorded 'O Magnum Mysterium' on the compact disc "Lauridsen - Northwest Journey" (RCM). Baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and pianist Paula Fan have recorded 'O Magnum Mysterium' on "Prayer: The Songs of Morten Lauridsen." An article written by Mr. Lauridsen for the Wall Street Journal, "Zurbaran's Still-Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose: An inspiration for the choral setting of 'O Magnum Mysterium'," is reprinted at mortenlauridsen.net.
Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers commissioned the versions of 'O Magnum Mysterium' for violin and either full or chamber orchestra and violin and piano. She has recorded the work with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Kristjan Järvi on the compact disc "Fantasia-Fantasy Album" on eOne recordings.
On her recording, Ms. Meyers performed the more elaborate violin version from measures 47 to the end of measure 67. Violinists are free to perform the more direct version of the melody based on the original vocal line in these measures if they prefer. Both versions are printed in this score." (Morten Lauridsen)