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Australian Requiem for Easter
Posted in Culture
The last couple of years have seen the Good Friday services at Clayton Wesley UC develop into an experience where a Requiem has been sung by a choir of eight. Each section of the Requiem has been interspersed with Bible readings that focus on the Easter story or silence that allows personal contemplation.
According to Mandy Hutchinson, Music Director at Clayton Wesley UC, the Good Friday Requiems so far have been ones that have been written by French composers Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé. "The services have proven to be very popular, so when choosing the music for 2019, one of the choir members, herself a composition student, approached her colleagues to see whether they knew of an Australian Requiem. Unable to find one suitable for their circumstances the choir member asked her colleagues whether they might be interested in writing one. And someone was!" she explains.
Anne Cawrse completed her PhD in Composition in Adelaide in 2008 and is a highly sought-after, award-winning composer who has written for both large and small ensembles. She has been commissioned to compose new works by groups such as the Adelaide Chamber Singers, the Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, the Australian String Quartet, the Adelaide Wind Orchestra and Adelaide’s Zephyr Quartet.
Anne writes that her ‘compositional aim is to be accessible but not predictive, familiar but at the same time unique; to speak clearly, entertain, enlighten and enhance’. When asked specifically about the Requiem she has been commissioned to write by Clayton Wesley Uniting to be used for its Good Friday service, Anne feels that her job is ‘to create the sound that is the vehicle for the message of the words’.
The Requiem will contain both Latin from traditional texts as well as English from prayers by Michael Leunig. Anne's hope is that ‘the resultant work is primarily reflective in nature, but also thought provoking, asking us all to reconsider and examine our approach to Holy Week and Easter, the relentless busyness of lives, our ongoing search for meaning and rest, and our relationship with God, faith and those around us.’
Mandy says that the composition of this Requiem is not only exciting for Clayton Wesley UC local communities but also for the broader music population. "New sacred music will be added to Australia’s already well-established contemporary music scene. This work should appeal particularly to people who are seeking an opportunity to explore the meaning of Easter and to those who wish to pause at this busy time and ‘just be’."
If you would like a foretaste of what awaits on Good Friday with this new Australian Requiem, you will be able to do so next week Thursday, 11 April, at 6:30pm at Clayton Wesley UC. Their concert called 'Easter music - Old and New' will feature some excerpts from the piece. The 'old' will be Stabat Mater by Pergolesi and the 'new' will be bits of Anne's requiem, performed live with quartet and organ. Tickets will be sold at the door - $20 or $10 concession.
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