A cantata for bass/baritone voice accompanied by 12 virtual voices.

Over seven movements and 30 minutes,  Noche Oscura takes listeners from the cluttered, noisy world of the unquiet mind in "Anima mea turbata est valde" (My soul is sorely troubled) to the inner peace of "Quietud y descanso" (Stillness and rest). The virtual choirs are both a background and a Greek chorus while the soloist meditates on suffering and transcendence.

The work features intricate textures of voice and noise, gentle choral landscapes, the solemn simplicity of plainchant, long serpentine melodies developing out of simple ideas, and a contrapuntal section that absorbs the soloist into the virtual choirs as the work concludes with the text "sicut flumen pax" (like a river of peace).

About Brien

Bay Area composer Brien Henderson (b. 1977) has generated a body of work that reflects his love for medieval, Renaissance, and modern classical music, with influences such as Johannes Ockeghem, Cristóbal de Morales, J. S. Bach, and Igor Stravinsky.

His music favors lengthy melodies with prose-like rhythms over metric verse, a heavy dose of counterpoint, and his own trencadís technique of creating dynamic melodic lines out of short musical fragments. This music attempts to comfortingly disorient the listener, and ultimately move them, by combining familiar and foreign musical elements.

Several groups have workshopped and performed his music, including Court-Circuit, Ensemble Dal Niente, the Hausmann String Quartet, Ensemble Linea, Ensemble Signal, Slee Sinfonietta, and Sotto Voce Vocal Collective. In 2016, double bassist Megan McDevitt commissioned Brien's Confession for double bass, which she premiered at the University of Michigan in 2017.

Henderson holds a PhD in music composition from the University at Buffalo (2019), where he developed his trencadís and neo-Renaissance styles. Both of these are exemplified in his Missa Trencadís (2019) for SATB choir and ensemble, premiered at June in Buffalo 2019. Before Buffalo, he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music composition at San Francisco State University (2010 and 2013).