To celebrate the 850th anniversery of Notre-Dame Cathedral on 2013, Musique Sacrée à Notre-Dame de Paris commissioned fifteen composers to write a total of one missa brevis and twelve motets. This powerful and symbolic gesture is in keeping with the centuries-old tradition of cathedral choir schools.
In keeping with this grand old tradition, we decided on a collaborative project, entitled Livre de Notre-Dame. The idea behind this “Notre-Dame choir-book” was to create a choral cycle offering Notre-Dame (and every) children’s choir a great variety of pieces with organ accompaniment. The pieces are based on Latin or French texts and the cycle follows the liturgical year, so they will ring out throughout the year in Notre-Dame, of course, but also (we hope) in many other places of worship!
Another purpose of this project is to enrich sacred music repertoire with contemporary pieces for children’s choirs. Composers were particularly careful to keep to a “medium” level of difficulty, especially in the motets, so that the repertoire would be accessible to very young choristers. The motets also have a cultural and educational purpose in that they familiarize young singers – professional musicians, concertgoers and music-lovers of tomorrow! – with the stylistic variety of contemporary music.
Our panel of composers reflects a great variety of musical esthetics, and even opposite approaches. Neither did we restrict ourselves to liturgical music specialists, nor did we interfere in any way with the composers’ chosen styles nor try to impose another musical language that might have seemed (to us) more suitable. Indeed, we were guided throughout this project by the commitment at the very heart of our mission, and that is to make the Livre de Notre-Dame a link between innovative music creation and sacred music.