This significant seven-movement work from Cecilia McDowall presents an imaginative pairing of extracts from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci with texts from the Latin Missa pro defunctis. Da Vinci's reflective and penetrating insights into the nature of mortality and all that it encompasses cast new light on the familiar Requiem texts, and McDowall employs her orchestral forces to create a rich, atmospheric backdrop to the profound narrative presented by the chorus and soprano and baritone soloists. Dark, sonorous writing precedes an energetic 'Sanctus', and the closing bars of the luminous 'Lux aeterna' create a powerful allusion to da Vinci's concept of 'The Perspective of Disappearance'.
I have brought together my chosen Latin texts for this Requiem with extracts from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, editions of which have been in my family for over seventy years. Leonardo da Vinci's extraordinary philosophical writings cast reflective and penetrating insights into the nature of mortality and all that it encompasses. The Requiem, structured in seven movements, advances from a dark, contemplative opening to hopeful luminosity in the final movement, 'Lux aeterna'. In the closing bars all voices drift upwards, folding into silence, an allusion to Leonardo's concept of 'The Perspective of Disappearance'.
'The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the world with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest whence he sprang.' - Leonardo da Vinci.
Commissioned by Wimbledon Choral Society and its music director Neil Ferris to mark its centenary.
First performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, England, by the Wimbledon Choral Society, Philharmonia Orchestra, Kate Royal (soprano), Roderick Williams (baritone), and conductor Neil Ferris on 7 May 2019 to resonate with the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death.