Celebremus, written in 1997 and scored for women’s chorus and piano, was commissioned by the Elektra Women’s Choir with the assistance of the Canada Council. It is a setting of a text taken from the 13th century manuscript Carmina Burana, meaning “Songs of Beuern.” The Codex Buranus, discovered in the Bavarian monastery of Benediktbeuern in 1803, is the most famous and exten- sive surviving collection of medieval Latin poetry. Its 254 texts, often pagan and sensual in content, are arranged in four loose categories: satirical or moralizing lyrics; poems with religious content; songs celebrating springtime and love; and gambling and drinking songs. Celebremus is the 216th poem within this manuscript, falling under the latter grouping. The majority of the poems were writ- ten in medieval Latin, although some are in Middle High German, Provençal French, or a macaronic combination thereof. Composed by travelling scholars and vagabond poets, these songs were a troubadours.
Celebremus attempts to recapture both the age and festive nature of the text through the use of dance-like rhythms common to medieval music, the allusion to chant especially in reference to scholarly learning, exuberant piano figuration, and strong consonant writing between the two voice parts.
This piece is part of Mosaic, the Pearl Shangkuan Choral Series.