This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes
for the world.
Silva Concert Hall, Eugene, OR Christopher Ainslie, counter-tenor, Morgan Smith, baritone / Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra / Berwick Chorus of Oregon Bach Festival / Matthew Halls
The concert Requiem, as it developed from the 19th century, is a particularly European form that composers have turned to when they identify with a sense of loss, often as much within themselves, as prompted by a specific death. That is the case with my work, which is not a memorial for a loved one but rather a general response to this vivid text, coloured by a realism and wistfulness at the passing of deep cultural resonances.
It attempts to fuse the Requiem with symphonic form in a single continuous movement, moving between the sections of text via linking orchestral episodes. As the work is non-liturgical, I’ve largely avoided building the material from Gregorian plainsong, though allusions to chant inevitably surface as we approach the final In Paradisum (Chorus Angelorum).
Whereas Brahms stepped out of line to use German texts overtly in Ein deutsches Requiem, it may be somewhat ironic that the language I feel drawn back to is Latin, which represents for me the common European language that existed before nationalist barriers were erected. It was the lingua franca used by the European founding fathers, whether in Roman times or in the Church, and provided a source of common identity for a millennium and a half, in international relations, education and the sharing of ideas. Setting texts in Latin may now seem counter-cultural to many, but for me it represents the ideal rediscovering of our common heritage.
James MacMillan, 2016
Commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.