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Mary Finsterer (Melbourne Catholic/Dean Golja)

Australian composer Mary Finsterer’s third work as the 2023 composer-in-residence for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will receive its world premiere at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral tonight. Source: The Age. 

Finsterer has curated a concert to honour the Virgin Mary that culminates in her new work for orchestra and soprano, Ad Honorem Beatae Mariae Virginis & Stabat Mater.

“There are so many riches within the tradition of sacred music in the Western art tradition, and specifically within the tradition of the Catholic Church, because so many composers wrote for the Church, and the Church commissioned so many works over the centuries,” Finsterer said.

“There is much to learn for contemporary composers if they are interested in delving into this beautiful legacy. For me, it’s a joy because each day, I discover more.”

Finsterer has written a new setting to the Stabat Mater, the 800-year-old prayer to Mary, which she precedes with a section setting three other much-loved traditional prayers: Sub Tuum Praesidium, Ave Maria and Salve Regina, plus two verses from Psalm 82. Then the 20 verses of the Stabat Mater, about the grieving mother at the Cross, is divided into three movements.

The pre-recorded narration is by the deeply religious Catholic actor Mel Gibson, whom Finsterer flew to Los Angeles to meet. 

Finsterer takes joy in the connections across space and time that sacred music grants her, where the ideas work with a single purpose. In this case, she says: “It is to honour Our Lady because this concert is in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, but it’s also in honour of God because she will always point us to our Lord, her purpose is to bring us closer to him.”

Details: Stabat Mater


Livin’ on an 800-year-old prayer: This is a music debut with a difference (By Barney Zwartz, The Age)


Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to honour Our Lady at St Patrick’s Cathedral (Melbourne Catholic)