Requiem

 

 

Twenty-five years in the writing, my Requiem was received with so much more enthusiasm than I could ever have imagined. When I began assembling  the many fragments and sketches, the only movement completed was the Offertory (without the Hostias) which had been performed in a prefabricated 'temporary' classroom that served as half of the music department at my school. (It is, of course, still standing and in use!) The 'Prophecy' movement, also composed while I was a student was however, tried out unsuccessfully in a rehearsal by the choir of The City Temple in London where I sang every Sunday during my years at The Royal Academy of Music. When members of the Stantonbury Chamber Choir asked to sing some of my Requiem only the 'Prophecy' existed in a performable state. They sang it, unaccompanied but successfully, in a concert of Anthems and religious music in 1998, it was that success, combined with the advent of computer programmes for processing music, which inspired me finally to finish what I began twenty-five years ago.

 

I was determined not to improve the work but to 'realize' the sketches and structure that I had envisaged in a way  similar way to Elgar when he created his 'Wand of Youth 'suite. I am in no doubt that the realization benefited from the intervening years' musical experience, but I remained true to my aims and apart from one transposition and some obvious corrections my short (30 minute) optimistic Requiem is exactly what was in my head and dreams for so long.

 

The work is one dramatic whole and consists of the complete Latin text plus two biblical extracts in English. The scoring is for double choir, strings, harp (or piano) with optional Soprano Solo. Within the structure there are many alternatives. Although the two choirs are conceived as a choir of 'first' and a choir of 'second' voices, i.e. using the natural division of the voices to create a lighter and darker quality, the first choir could be a solo quartet in which case the 'Prophecy' and 'Dies Irae' should be sung by a divided choir 2 - although all of the 'soloistic' movements may be sung chorally. The orchestra, like the voices, is in two groups, strings in four parts (quartet or orchestra) and double bass with harp. It is also possible to sing the entire work with eight voices, particularly if solo strings are employed, and there is an alternative orchestration for organ and piano (harp) with or without double bass. Since composing 'Requiem' digital technology has arrived and the harp at the first performance was a Yamaha Clavinova with a tone generator.

 

 

This is the cover from the CD of the first performance. Click on it if you would like to hear a Midi File of the (very up-beat) Sanctus. Contact me if you would like to hear more, buy a copy (10) or put on a performance. There are 50 vocal scores along with orchestral parts for hire at nominal cost.

 

 

My other more modest compositions include the Vocal Music from William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night', a number of short Choral Pieces and a plethora of Close-Harmony arrangements, many of which have been heard on BBC Radio. My creative side has for the most part been channeled into the translation, re-orchestration, and arrangement of opera for performance by young people. Firstly at The Arts Educational School, Tring, where I taught singing for ten years and more recently for WorkshOpera, Heart of England Opera and Milton Keynes Youth Opera