Hailed for its “glorious sound” and “rich harmonic fabric,” the premiere performance of Requiem was taped and later broadcast nationally by WFMT-FM Chicago on December 1, 1995, World AIDS Day. It is scored for chamber orchestra and chamber chorus but is also available in an edition for four voices and piano. Performance time 32 minutes.
Requiem, based on the latin liturgy with a benediction written by the composer, is emotionally healing -- a beautiful, moving, accessible work that conveys the conflicting emotions of the mass, alternating between visions of peace, salvation, and the glory of God, and those of the fear of darkness, the day of wrath, and retribution for our sins, much as life is a conflict between light and darkness, but ending on a positive vision of peace. It ends with this benediction:
“Lord, let those who have struggled so valiantly in the face of illness and death attain everlasting peace. Let them know that they live on forever in the hearts and minds of their loved ones and that they shall never, never be forgotten. Amen.”
Requiem is thus appropriate to commemorate anyone’s death, whether in the normal course of life or from a plague such as the COVID-19 pandemic or AIDS. And in commemorating life lost it heals the hearts of the living left behind.
Requiem is also a "people's" requiem in that it can be performed with the most modest of resources - piano or organ and four solo voices or small chorus. There are no soloists. It's moving, healing power can thus be brought to people in even smaller towns and villages.
Originally titled An AIDS Requiem, It has been performed in both Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI as part of A Time for Healing AIDS benefits. Reviewing the Grand Rapids concert for a local paper, Wes Ball, a Professor of Music at Hope College, further commented on the work’s “colorful transparent orchestration” and said the work deserves “a place in the repertoire of ‘serious” vocal/choral compositions.” (For full review, click the Reviews tab above.)
The performance excerpted below is from the “A Time for Healing” AIDS benefit concert that took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on October 7, 2001. The orchestra and chorus are conducted by Nancy Summers-Meeusen.
To hear excerpts, play the YouTube video below.
To purchase the score in either the orchestral or piano version, go to the Purchase page.