Houstonians have a rare opportunity: attend the premier of a new, major work by world-renowned British composer, Howard Goodall.
The piece, Invictus: A Passion premieres Sunday, March 25, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. It’s a stirring recounting of the passion of Christ; music lovers who look forward each year to the Passion settings of Bach and Handel will embrace this 21st-century piece. Adding to the poignancy: Invictus debuts on the eve of Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week.
The backstory of the making of Invictus: A Passion is the culmination of many passions. The first is the way music connected the lives of two men who would never have otherwise met. Sid Davis, St. Luke’s Choir Director in Houston, first became familiar with the work of Goodall, living in England, when a friend introduced Davis to Eternal Light: A Requiem.
Moved by this stunning piece by Goodall, Davis brought Eternal Light to St. Luke’s, where it has been performed by the Chancel Choir three times, fostering a love affair between the church and Goodall.
“Our choir is emotionally connected to Eternal Light. They would gather to do it again tomorrow. I have never seen anything like it,” says Davis.
Eight years later, Eternal Light was to be performed at Carnegie Hall, and Goodall invited Davis and members of the Chancel choir to join him in New York City. There was an immediate familiarity, a connection — born out of their common passion music.
Shortly thereafter, Davis tapped into the resources of the Friends of Music, an organization that supports music at St. Luke’s, to commission Goodall to write Invictus: A Passion.
Goodall notes, “it is wonderful to when the piece you want to write is also the piece the people who commission you want you to write…the choir had embraced the idea of it and the writing of it came like white hot feet — on after the other.”
Goodall’s commitment to the piece was, ironically, heightened by tragedy. During the writing, Goodall witnessed the Grenfell tower fire, which took place near his home, and killed 72 people. His distress and empathy for the loss enhanced his view of what he wanted to achieve in the piece.
While recounting the final hours of Jesus’ life and crucifixion, Goodall strives to address persecution of the innocent, the power of peaceful humility in the face of tyranny, and the facing-down of fear. Invictus, which means unconquered, is a portrait of endurance, an ability to overcome hardship, and a passion for others.
Invictus: A Passion debuts 7 pm Sunday, March 25, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Rd., 713-622-5710. Admission is free.