Ekstasis was composed in August 1990 for The Song Company and is a setting for six solo voices of a freely adapted passage from the conclusion of The Song of Songs. The eight lines used are erotic love poetry exploring the sensual territory at the border of love and pain, obsessive lust and spiritual transcendence.
Yet whilst the text is direct and passionate it also has a classical and simple shape, as if the strength of meaning demands a balancing formality of expression. In Ekstasis, the text is used over and over as if all aspects of its meaning are being explored and implying an overtly erotic dramatic shape for the music’s form. In the course of the work, the words are varied slightly but continuously so that the first lines lose their purity and become almost desperate. Finally, it closes with a still section – a state of displacement or trance, the literal meanings of the Greek word ekstasis.