SATB chorus, didjeridu and orchestra
Chorus with Orchestra/Ensemble, Solo Instrument(s) with Orchestra
Plainsong Mass of the Dead
didjeridu solo - 2222 - 4331 - timp - perc(3):tam-t/ch.cym/tgl/tubular bell (below D)/congas (pair)/timb/tom-toms(pair)/BD - strings
Aboriginal, Latin

Commissioned by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (through Symphony Australia with funds provided by the Australia Council); the Adelaide Festival of Arts, and the Lichfield Festival (with funds provided by the Festival Millennium Membership Scheme).

First Performance
3.3.2004: Adelaide Town Hall: William Barton/Adelaide Symphony Orchestra/Adelaide Chamber Singers/Adelaide Voices (dir. Carl Crossin)/Richard Mills

Vocal score 0-571-52375-7 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

For most of my life, I have been drawn to the Plainsong Mass of the Dead, to its structure, its Latin text and the Gregorian chant associated with it. I have been equally drawn to its concern with eternal rest and with light that is all enlightening, both of primary concern to all human beings. It was inevitable, then, that I should write a choral Requiem. Furthermore, it was important to me that I should do so, that I should seek to uplift people during these perilous times. While the music of my Requiem is continuous, the work is in two inter-related parts: First Part: Second Part: I Introit V Canticle II Kyrie VI Sanctus III Gradual VII Agnus Dei IV Sequence VIII Communion The Canticle was the first of the eight movements to be written. Based upon an indigenous Australian lullaby, and composed at the time of the outbreak of fighting in Iraq, it grew from thoughts about children affected by war. It is re-stated at the beginning of the Communion, in which eternal light is sought, and much of the material in the work stems from it. Apart from the lullaby, which uses Aboriginal words, the movements of the work follow the Latin text of the Plainsong Mass of the Dead. Along with most composers who have set these words, I have not used the text in its entirety. Of the melodies in the Mass, I like best those sung to the words of the Kyrie, Sequence and Communion. They appear in the orchestral music of the movements so-named, acting as a counterpoint to the vocal music. I chose to employ a didjeridu because I wanted to give the work a specifically Australian sound, and the didjeridu, reflecting the landscape in both a physical and spiritual sense, is the quintessential Australian instrument. Furthermore, I have added drumming patterns similar to those in my orchestral works inspired by outback Australia. These are used in the Introit, Gradual and Agnus Dei, three movements resolute in their beseeching of eternal rest, and in the Sanctus they are played by timpani. The didjeridu takes part in every movement except the Introit and Agnus Dei. It should be said that I am not a religious composer in any sectarian sense. On the other hand, most of my output is devoted to seeking the sacred in nature, in all things. My Requiem is no exception to this. P.S.

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