Muhly fell in love with Byrd’s setting of the Christmas words Senex Puerum Portabat as a chorister, so much that the ‘fluidity of the lines, the relentless lilting rhythm, and the way Byrd both avoided and cradled the text’ that he was inspired to follow a life in music. Early in his career, he set the same text in modern style. The first statement of the words is a capella with ecstatic brass entering in the restatement. The ancient Hodie Christus Natus Est follows on seamlessly in a new mood.
Contemporary American composer Nico Muhly is a prolific writer and arranger who, at 32, is the youngest composer ever to have been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. His oeuvre includes two operas, and many solo pieces and works for small ensemble, Orchestra, and Chorus and he has collaborated widely.