- The hour-long choral work explores the prominent themes of 2020, from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic to the increased prominence of human rights movements and climate change.
- Written by composer Teresa Barlow, the work is performed by the BSO Voices community choir and members of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of conductor Pete Harrison.
From Covid-19 performed as a morse code cypher to a setting of words by Greta Thunberg on environmental change, Requiem 2020 is set to mark a year unlike any other.
Members of the Southampton-based community choir BSO Voices prepare to give the world premiere performance of the new choral work this spring.
Written by composer Teresa Barlow, Requiem 2020 is performed at Portsmouth Cathedral on Saturday 21 May — it will also be livestreamed and available to view online for 30 days.
The work follows the pattern of the traditional Requiem Mass, a format that honours the dead and remembers those left behind. The texts feature a mix of original Latin settings and contemporary quotes translated by a Classics specialist.
Each of the movements have been dedicated to a theme from the year 2020, including: a Dies Irae (Climate Change) set to the words of Greta Thunberg; Tuba Mirum (Covid-19) following a morse cypher to the pattern of ‘Covid-19’, dedicated to those who have lost their lives during the pandemic; and a Lacrimosa (Animal Rights) set to a quotation by Joaquin Phoenix. The Pie Jesu is dedicated to the memory of George Floyd; it features quotations from Martin Luther King Jr. with the movement lasting 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Teresa Barlow, Composer of Requiem 2020, said “The concept of Requiem 2020 came to me during the first lockdown, in March 2020, when it felt as though the world had slowed down: I noticed a strength of community and a united front I hadn’t seen before. As I revisit the work, I increasingly feel that it continues to be relatable in many different ways— ultimately, this piece is about hope and unity, and I hope that listeners will experience this too.”
The group released a single movement of the new work last year. Terra Eleison, which pays homage to the natural world, was shared on Earth Day in 2021 ahead of the full Requiem this spring.
Established in 2015 thanks to a generous gift from David and Jill Peters, BSO Voices is a vibrant community choir and is a part of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) family. The group of over 140 singers rehearses weekly in Southampton, giving at least three performances each year with the professional orchestra. Choir members do not audition or need to be able to read music, but instead have an open mind and be willing to celebrate music through the joy of singing.
Dougie Scarfe, the BSO’s Chief Executive said, “When the world around us doesn’t make sense, we know that music can help people to channel emotions and find release. As a community choir, BSO Voices continued to meet online for rehearsals and performances throughout the depths of the pandemic, and it feels fitting that the group will mark such a monumental year with this new work by Teresa, who — as pianist and arranger of BSO Voices — is brilliantly placed to write for the group.”
Requiem 2020 is performed at Portsmouth Cathedral on Saturday 21 May, at 7.30pm. See bsolive.com for full details.