Lansing D. McLoskey 
Prex Penitentialis: The Prayer of Petrarch
Prex Penitentiales: The Prayer of Petrarch          Duration: 24'
for soprano & chamber orchestra [2222/2000/1perc/strings]

National Endowment for the Arts Composer's Grant commission
Winner, the Omaha Symphony Orchestra International New Music Competition
Winner, The Adelbert Sprague Prize for Orchestral Works
Winner, the 5th annual Boston Chamber Ensemble International Composition Contest
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Commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, Prex Penitentialis: The Prayer of Petrarch for soprano and orchestra is a setting of lines excerpted from Petrarch's Canzoniere (the famous Love Sonnets) and the lesser known Septem Psalmi Penitentiales ("Seven Penitential Psalms").  

The excerpts are arranged not to represent a “new” text by Petrarch, but rather a glimpse into the heart and mind of Petrarch...and ourselves. It is both prayer and dialogue, with the mind interrupting the soul’s pious efforts and causing it to lament its weakness and inconsistency.

Like the text, the music begins in a reverent manner of praise and devotion with references to chant, pseudo-Landini cadences and an emphasis on open fifths.  Throughout the work there is conflict between the calm and the turbulent, culminating near the end of the second movement where a violent upheaval threatens to utterly dominate.

The rage and confusion are only brief, however, and the work concludes “as it was in beginning” with a variation of the melody of the opening line. Yet rather than a feeling of complete peace and resolution, there is a sense of reconciliation - or perhaps symbiosis, if you will.  The conflict remains, but a vision of hope and faith provides temporal relief. 

The piece was written for soprano Andrea Fullington (founding member of Bimbetta, who has also recorded and performed with Theatre of Voices, the Steve Reich Ensemble, American Bach Soloists, and many others).  

Prex Penitentialis
was released on the "American Dream" CD on Albany Records in the spring of 2011 (TROY1258).

"Lansing McLoskey's Prex Penitentialis is based on the writings of the Renaissance philosopher Petrarch, and deals with the battles and struggles between body and soul, a primal conflict that has plagued mankind from medieval times up until today. It opens with a 15th century Gregorian chant sounding phrase, followed by the toll of a bell, but quickly assumes its angst driven 21th century garb, with dark and elusive strands of probing orchestral sounds that well support the pain and lamentations within the text, sung accordingly by soprano Andrea Fullington. The orchestra and voice, particularly during the second movement, always seem to follow divergent paths, but somehow manage to converge and focus your attention on the sombre subject and confessional purpose within the text. A rare skill that Lansing McLoskey has obviously mastered. Near the end of the piece, the tolling bell returns and liturgical latin text brings the work to an unresolved conclusion. An evocative and inspired work that does a great job of connecting the centuries old script with today's troubled psyche.
[a modern work] which resonates with the listener and doesn't attempt to alienate the audience. It achieves this by simply reaching into the meaning behind the words in the text, and emphasizing it's intent through powerful and emotive music."
Jean-Yves Duperron, Classical Music Sential, May 2011.

"Lansing McLoskey’s Prex Penitentialis ... An introverted work, it has a soaring vocal line
accompanied with restraint by the orchestra. It is an ethereal and beautiful piece, performed very well here by Andrea Fullington."
American Record Guide, July 2011.

"Prex Penitentialis…an aura of early, simple-seeming church music - ethereal, chaste, distanced - darkened by slow stages into a musically complex and decidedly modern species of Angst.  Petrarch supplied the exquisitely tortured texts, Andrea Fullington (soprano) the exquisitely poised singing."                                                   
                            –Richard Buell, The Boston Globe