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Requiem for the Living by Dan Forrest

by OurSong

Dan Forrest's "Requiem for the Living" receives an exquisitely moving performance by OurSong, The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chorus, in this 2016 recording at critically acclaimed Spivey Hall, with chamber orchestra and organ.
Genre: Classical: Choral Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Requiem for the Living: 1. Introit - Kyrie
10:10 album only
2. Requiem for the Living: 2. Vanitas Vanitatum
6:37 album only
3. Requiem for the Living: 3. Agnus Dei
7:00 album only
4. Requiem for the Living: 4. Sanctus
7:27 album only
5. Requiem for the Living: 5. Lux Aeterna
8:59 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Dan Forrest calls his composition Requiem for the Living because he is making a distinction from
traditional requiems, which originated as masses for the dead. Many hundreds of years ago, the masses
would have been based on homophonic liturgical chant. Since as early as the 16th century, however,
composers have used the form as a setting for more complex musical expression, so much so that it
eventually morphed into its own musical genre. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the genre was elevated
to an art form, and the compositions began to take on such complexity that they could no longer
comfortably be used in an actual funeral service!

There are thousands of requiems, composed across many centuries and for many different occasions.
Some composers use only the traditional liturgical text (or portions thereof), in Latin. Others employ
portions of the liturgical text in other languages. Still other composers incorporate additional sacred or
secular texts, as in the case of Brahms, who used the German Luther bible to compose his
Ein Deutches Requiem, or Britten, who incorporated the poetry of Wilfred Owen with the traditional
Latin text in his War Requiem.

If there are thousands of requiems, what makes Requiem for the Living different? Why give attention
to this particular work? It isn’t that the work itself has shattered the norms of the genre; rather, Forrest
puts a delicate twist into his work that raises the question: for whom is this intended? What sets his work
apart is neither the text nor the music, but rather his intention—to ask for rest and mercy for the living.
In the first movement, he uses the traditional “Introit” and “Kyrie” texts; while traditionally those texts
in a requiem ask for mercy for the deceased, Forrest’s plea is for mercy for the living. In the second
movement, “Vanitas Vanitatum,” he departs from the traditional liturgical text with passages from
the Biblical books of Ecclesiastes and Job. The movement intends to portray human suffering while
on earth. In the third movement, “Agnus Dei,” Forrest returns to the traditional text, but places this
text rather earlier than it would fall in the typical requiem form. This is the first movement in the piece
with a soloist, which adds another texture and a very human voice to the plea, “grant them rest.”
In the fourth movement, “Sanctus,” he uses the traditional text of a requiem mass; this movement has
three distinct sections. The text, “heaven and earth are full of your glory,” draws on three inspirations:
pictures taken by the Hubble telescope of space, depicting the glory of the universe; pictures taken from
the International Space Station, depicting the glory of earth; and a mental image of a bustling city, depicting
the glory of God through human life. In the final movement, “Lux Aeterna,” the peaceful music includes
the traditional text: God’s “eternal light” shining on the deceased. Here Forrest adds to that traditional text
with words from the gospel of Matthew. While this may not be the usual ending to a requiem, the result
is a wonderful peacefulness that can be a prayer for the living as well as the dead. The work is subtle in its
intent, nuanced in its treatment, and beautiful and comforting in its effect.

Quotes from “Requiem for the Living” performances by OurSong in June 2015:

"There were parts that were so insightful to me, both musically and spiritually, that it was almost overwhelming as tears fell down my face… it was so very moving." – Bette

"OurSong can be consistently counted on to move me more than any other performance at Spivey—and I see them all. The passion for the art which every member of the ensemble brings to the stage is self-evident." – Michael

OurSong is dedicated to performing high quality choral music while celebrating our unique gay and lesbian experience and our evolving place in the world.



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