Requiem For Our Time
About this work:
This large work for chorus and orchestra incorporates a number of Anne Sexton's poems, along with the Latin Mass text and several poems by the Boston poet Renee Neblett. Originally commissioned for Montgomery County Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra, it received its premiere by Boston Pro Musica, conducted by Jeffrey Rink, November 9, 2007 at the Old North Church in Boston. Ilana Davidson and David Murray were the soloists.
It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize as a result of that performance.
It has always been my most fervent wish that this piece become a part of the choral – orchestral repertoire, and I have always hoped I could write it in such a way that it would reflect modernity of thought and style with a respect for the textual and musical traditions we have inherited over the centuries.
The texts are visceral, sometimes raw and edgy, using the later death poems of the Pulitzer prize winning poet, Anne Sexton. Combined with the drama that exists in the Latin Requiem Mass, the poems create a counterpoint that is personal, highly emotional, and contemporary.
The music is accessible for both performers and audiences. It is eclectic, highly rhythmic and often contrapuntal, while forming a connection with the unfolding drama of the piece that is energetic and true to the texts. It ends with a contemporary chorale based on Sexton's famous poem "Yellow:"
When they turn the sun on again, I'll plant children under it.
I'll light up my soul with a match and let it sing.
I'll take my mother and soap her up,
I'll take my bones and polish them,
I'll vacuum up my stale hair,
I'll pay all my neighbors' bad debts.
I'll write a poem called yellow
and put my lips down to drink it up;
I'll feed myself spoonfuls of heat.
And everyone will be home playing with their wings.
And the planet will shudder with all those smiles,
And there'll be no poison anywhere, no plague in the sky anywhere.
A complete recording of the piece is available through Boston Chorus Pro Music, who have a website. Excerpts from the work are available on AMC.
Version: For Chorus, Orchestra, soprano and baritone soloists
Year composed: 2007
Ensemble type: Chorus, with or without Solo Voices:Chorus with Chamber Ensemble
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Oboe, 1 English Horn, 1 Clarinet, 1 Bassoon, 1 Horn in F, 2 Trumpet, 1 Trombone, 1 Tuba, 3 Percussion (General), 1 Piano, 1 Organ, 5 Violin, 2 Viola, 3 Cello, 1 Double bass
Instrumentation notes: A smaller orchestration is available.