For unaccompanied mixed choir
Duration: ca. 6 minutes
Wonderful how the rhythmic energy grows out of such simple beginnings. Great sensitivity to the opportunities the text provides. Variety is generated within controlled limits. Archaic in sound without being old-fashioned. Tonally a bit adventurous – a fine ear-trainer for the choir.
— American Prize Adjudicator David Katz
For Zodiakos, the final concert of their 2002 season, The Esoterics commissioned twelve Washington State composers to create a suite of a cappella horoscopes from the ancient poem, Astronomica, by First Century B.C.E. poet Marcus Manilius. Each composer set verses for his or her own star sign.
Leo was premiered by The Esoterics on December 7, 8, 14 & 15, 2002, in concerts in Tacoma, Mercer Island and Seattle, Washington. The score is published by Ars Nova Music, a division of Ars Nova Press. The piece was named as a Finalist in 2007 Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition.
Leo is a Project Encore selection.
Text from Astronomica by Marcus Manilius
Excerpts selected and translated by Eric Banks for The Esoterics' Zodiakos concerts
Quis dubitet, vasti quae sit natura Leonis
quasque suo dictet signo nascentibus artes?
Ille novas semper pugnas, nova bella ferarum apparat,
et spolio vivit pecorumque rapinis.
Sicui per summas avidus produxerit undas ora Leo
et scandat malis hiscentibus orbem,
ille patri natisque reus, quas ceperit ipse,
non legabit opes, censumque immerget in ipso.
Ingenium ad subitas iras facilisque recessus aequale
et puro sententia pectore simplex.
Who can doubt the very nature of the enormous Lion,
and dictate each of the skills of those born under its sign?
The Lion is always picking new fights and fresh battles with other beasts,
and thrives on the spoils and pillaging of the herd.
The one to whom the ravenous Lion has shown his face through the uppermost waves
as it climbs the vault of heaven with its gaping jaws,
he will be the thief of both his father and his sons: taking his inheritance for himself,
he will leave no such prosperity behind, as he engrosses himself in his own wealth.
The Lion's nature is equally prone to sudden rage as well as quick retreat
and the sincerest intention is found in his pure heart.