Halfway through the 90 minutes of Olagón—the opera that I have been making in collaboration with Iarla Ó Lionáird, Paul Muldoon, and Mark DeChiazza—Queen Medhbh finds herself in the kitchen of a “house on a ghost estate,” with the head of the Celtic Tiger screwed into the wall. It is, needless to say, a dark moment. As if the empty house had a loft for a choir, the sounds of a vocal consort emerge, evoking the resonance of the church, though with a decidedly secular text.
In the opera, each verse the consort sings is followed by an echo, sung in Irish by Ó Lionáird, and is accompanied by strings and winds. However, this piece—The Motet for Medhbh—can be sung by itself a cappella; the arrangement here, originally for Gallicantus (CTTBarB), can also be sung by a choir of mixed voices. Here is the first verse, as sung by Gallicantus: