This was the experience of composer Teresa Barlow who noticed a calm had descended on the world, reinforced by reports of Venice canals being full of fish and wild goats coming down to villages from the hills in northern wales. The feeling of calm prompted her to write Requiem 2020; inspired by the idea that life as we had known it had changed and the world was embarking on a new way of life with a new way of thinking.

The second movement of Requiem 2020, Terra Eleison, is being specifically released for Earth Day 2021. Terra Eleison translates as ‘Earth Have Mercy’ and the 2-minute piece pays homage to the natural world; bearing the subtitle ‘Apology to the Earth’. Performed by BSO Voices, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Southampton-based community choir, the piece is based on the original Latin text of a requiem, with some English woven in alongside some new Latin text. It has been recorded by 40 singers on Zoom and conducted by Pete Harrison.

Composer, Teresa Barlow

In full, Requiem 2020, is further dedicated to a few prominent themes and struggles of 2020; Climate Change, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matters movement. Dies Irae focusses on climate change and starts with Greta Thunberg’s words in English and later in Latin. Tuba Mirum is dedicated to COVID, with COVID spelled out in Morse code rhythmically throughout. Pie Jesu is dedicated to Black Lives Matter and is 8 min 46 seconds long, the length of time that George Floyd was restrained.

Composer Teresa Barlow said: “It’s been wonderful to work with BSO Voices to record this requiem for Earth Day. It’s not a standard requiem; it’s about hope and unity. I want people to feel encouraged and focussed on the future and in making the world a better place. Rehearsing Terra Eleison with BSO Voices has been easy with the help of technology and the use of silent sectionals via Zoom; the finished result when the recordings come in are as if they were standing next to each other.”

Watch Terra Eleison here: 

To read the full press release click here

To find out more about the work of BSO Voices click here