Instrumentation string orchestra/string octet or nonet (optional contrabass)

Timing 7′

Composed 1996

World Premiere January 17, 1997, Assumption University Chapel, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario. Windsor Symphony Orchestra; Susan Haig, conductor

Recorded on Quantum Mechanics: Chamber Music of Jeffrey Ryan (nonet version)

Programme Notes

ecce homoOriginally a work for unaccompanied choir, ecce homo was inspired by a medieval English stained glass window (part of the collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art), depicting the Crucifixion. In keeping with this medieval source, the work is scored for eight voices, which echo and imitate each other to evoke the sound of a reverberant cathedral.

After the première of the choral version, an early music specialist colleague of mine approached me with the idea of performing the piece with a consort of eight recorders. In fact, the simplicity of the work’s “neo-Medieval” style makes it appropriate for virtually any combination of like instruments.

The Latin title translates as “Behold the man” — the words spoken by Pilate as he turned Christ over to the crowd. This work speaks, intimately and introspectively, of the grief, suffering, and, ultimately, acceptance and release which we experience both individually and collectively throughout our lives.


…a gorgeous piece of richly layered strings. (Janet Smith/Georgia Straight)

The endlessly circulating, close counterpoint of ecce homo for two string quartets and double bass is riveting. it manfully resists the urge to build to a straining, overwrought string ensemble peak until quite near the end, and then thoughtfully backs quickly away to a simple unassuming ending. (Dana McCormick/American Record Guide)

PDF perusal score

ecce strings score


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