Dillon’s new Stabat Mater Dolorosa is no ordinary piece of music. We’ve put together a list of seven interesting facts you may not have known, to give a little more insight before the London premiere on Wednesday 21 January.
1. Alongside the ensemble and choir, Dillon’s Stabat Mater Dolorosa uses an electric guitar and amp. He says, “I’m imitating gospel guitar, pop staples. As someone who played the electric guitar, I think you have to keep going back to the 50’s, that’s the heart of the symbolism of electric guitar and I really wanted to take it back there.”
2. One of the texts Dillon weaves through his Stabat Mater Dolorosa, along with the original Latin text, is a fictional letter from Picasso to his Mother. Dillon reveals a “fascination” with one particular quote from Picasso which describes women as “weeping machines”. This has been structurally influential with “machine-like repetition that [the piece] seems to lock into occasionally.”
3. Although the Stabat Mater Dolorosa in its original form is a religious text, Dillon explains “I’m not setting it as a religious work, I think the whole idea of a sacred work today is highly problematic for me.”
4. Dillon creates a lot of questions within his music, leaving room for individual interpretations. The texts in the Stabat Mater Dolorosa are left to hover as “sonic materials” depicting something that does or does not belong, “bringing tension to the piece” and leaving it up to us to decipher.
5. Geometrical shapes influence the musical shape of his Stabat Mater Dolorosa at times. For example, the image of the cross, a chiasmus, is illustrated through the direction of voices crossing each other at different moments.
6. The original Latin poem and secondary texts are mixed and shredded into a concept Dillon describes as “low level chatter.”
7. Dillon was interested in the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, not only for its obvious sentiment, but the imaginative space it opens up. He says his work is like “stepping into the magic circle”.