for SATB (with divisi) & piano with optional bass & drums
Text: Latin, English
Duration: c24 minutes (6 movements)
Use: General, memorial, peace theme
Written in memory of the composer’s mother, Will Todd’s Songs of Peace is a six-movement work about love and loss. Two of the movements are scored for upper voices. Although it is not a conventional Requiem, it might be appropriate in a memorial context, but should by no means be confined to it: in many ways it is a very ‘life-affirming’ work, characterised by Todd’s recognisable jazz-infused harmonic language, memorable melodies, and powerful and personal texts. Songs of Peace is designed as a work which may be performed complete, as separate movements (two of which are scored for upper voices) or as a selection. It can be accompanied by piano alone (as written, embellished or extemporised – chord symbols are supplied where appropriate) or jazz trio (piano, bass and drums – parts available here).
First performed by the Fairhaven Singers and Allegro, conducted by Ralph Woodward, with the Will Todd Trio, on 27 May 2012 in Little St Mary’s Church, Cambridge, UK
The overall structure of Songs of Peace gradually made sense as I worked on individual movements; I didn’t originally set out to write a six-movement piece, but these various choral songs seem to work very well together and share a certain atmosphere. The themes are peace, eternity and love. It is a work in which I remember my mother, Iris Todd, for all the wonderful things she gave me, especially a lifelong interest in choral music and worship. She adored the Ave verum text which I set in the fourth movement, and also the hymn Just as I am, which she always said she would like at her funeral, and indeed this version in a solo piano arrangement was what I played on that occasion. The voices feel like a natural addition. There is a carol for the second movement, and a soft, ethereal ‘In paradisum’ section at the end, entitled Into the stars. The first movement is the opening section of the Requiem Mass, and the Song of Peace (movement five), like the second and sixth movements, is a setting of my own text.
English composer and performer Will Todd is well known for his beautiful and exciting music, encompassing choral works large and small, opera, musical theatre and orchestral pieces, as well as jazz compositions and chamber works. Best known for his choral works, his Mass in Blue has been performed hundreds of times by choirs all around the world. Notable smaller works for choir include the anthem The Lord is my shepherd, available for both upper and mixed voices, and his arrangement of Amazing Grace, which was performed at President Obama’s Inauguration Day prayer service and as part of the BBC’s Nelson Mandela Thanksgiving Service. He has collaborated with award winning choirs The Sixteen and Tenebrae, as well as with the BBC Singers and Concert Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Opera Holland Park, Welsh National Opera, Opera North, The Bach Choir, St Martin’s Voices and the Genesis Foundation. Will’s music continues to be in demand by performers amateur and professional, and he enjoys a busy international schedule of commissions, performances and conducting appearances.