Commissioned by the Genesis Foundation, Tõnu Kõrvits’ Stabat Mater was premiered by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers at two separate concerts on 4 June 2014. The work forms part of the Genesis Foundation’s Stabat Mater 2014: Spirit, Strength and Sorrow project where The Sixteen and Harry Christophers performed the world premieres of three new Stabat Maters by Alissa Firsova, Tõnu Kõrvits and Matthew Martin at a free lunchtime concert at LSO St Luke’s and at a private event hosted by the Genesis Foundation at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The three composers bring three very distinct voices to the traditional Stabat Mater text. Tõnu Kõrvits’very recognisablemodal style is the basis for his work, using a modality specific to a South-Eastern region of Estonia as its foundation.
The new commissions are part of a long-standing partnership with The Sixteen and Harry Christophers to commission and record new sacred choral music. In 2011, the Foundation commissioned Ruth Byrchmore, Tarik O’Regan and Roderick Williams to write music to poetry of the Spanish Mystics and in 2008, James Macmillan, Roxanna Panufnik and Will Todd wrote music to settings of Padre Pio’s Prayer. The three Stabat Maters were recorded for release on The Sixteen’s own label CORO in 2015.
Tõnu Kõrvits is a rising star of Estonian contemporary music, with his compositions being more and more frequently performed in Estonia and foreign countries. He graduated from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre’s composition department with Raimo Kangro in 1994 and master’s program with Professor Jaan Rääts in 1999. During his studies he also participated in master courses for young arrangers with the Metropole Orchestra and conductor Vince Mendoza (Hilversum, Holland, 1997) and in the master class of composer Stephen Montague (Gdansk, Poland, 1998). Since 2001 he has been a lecturer of composition and instrumentation at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. He has been a member of the Estonian Composers’ Union since 1994.