Requiem for the Living, a dramatic concert (oratorio) work written for a large instrumental ensemble, will have its world premiere on Saturday 27 August at 8pm at the Linder Auditorium, with a second performance at the ZK Matthews Hall, Unisa in Pretoria on Sunday 28 August at 3pm.
The Johannesburg concert will commemorate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s contribution at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (which turns 20 this year), while the second concert will honour the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s March to Pretoria. Archbishop Tutu and the South African diva, Mimi Coertse, are the patrons of Requiem for the Living.
Funded by the National Lotteries Commission, Requiem for the Living, an indigenous South African musical composition, was originally conceived and composed by South African musician Dr Rexleigh Bunyard for choirs, orchestra and soloists, to recognise the plight and raise awareness of AIDS orphans.
Requiem for the Living’s large instrumental ensemble incorporates standard symphonic instruments and some indigenous African instruments, two professional choirs – the Horizons Project from Pretoria and Gauteng Opera, indigenous musicians, praise singers and soloists. It will be conducted by the Netherlands conductor Rick Muselaers and directed by the composer, assisted by drama coach Avril Cummins. Courtesy of Adeyemi Oladiran, scholar musicians from the Music Enlightenment Project (MEP) in Braamfontein will be performing in the foyers prior to the concerts.
The choral-orchestral music of Requiem for the Living is an intricately conceived, powerfully orchestrated eclectic mix of local and international musical elements and features Zulu and other indigenous and international language praise singers/poets reflecting South Africa’s richly diverse cultural heritage.
The intent of the work is largely humanitarian and embraces all who have suffered devastating loss. This entirely local creation has two distinct ‘faces’ – its humanitarian relevance in South Africa, inspired by the plight of children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic, and its recognition of human worth at all levels, even the most impoverished or embattled.
Bunyard’s intent with her musical composition is to draw attention to the suffering of all children afflicted by abuse, neglect and tragic illness; the work also recognises and supports people who have lost hope due to life-shattering experiences, and who feel they have little or no reason to live. Requiem for the Living is a personal response to this human suffering – Dr Bunyard, an ordinary citizen with a musical gift and someone who is deeply moved by human need, says “knowing that music moves people’s hearts and souls, I invite others to be moved by symbol and music, to reflect and to respond compassionately “.
Her composition Requiem for the Living is a ritual experience in musical form designed to take listeners on an inner symbolic/mythic journey and highlights the recognition of loss and of renewal, within a modern context and within a contemporary musical idiom.
“The work I have created is unusual in its concept of being a requiem for the living, rather than for the dead. It does not contain words specific to requiems for the dead –instead it challenges, expands and enriches the requiem tradition by recognising the plight of survivors, the children who have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. It is intended to draw attention to suffering and loss via a humanitarian exercise in compassion which promotes a more hopeful, inclusive society”, says Bunyard.
Requiem for the Living has given rise to an NPO of the same name, with the vision of inspiring a more hopeful and compassionate society through the transformative power of the mythic/ symbolic process within music.
“For me it is the aesthetic of music and vision that precede finance and economics, because these are the first signs of real value. Requiem for the Living is therefore a prelude to, and gives voice to value in these uncertain times in which we live. “
The revenue generated from the two performances will go towards food gardens serving inner city communities.
Requiem for the Living extends a thank you to its main funder, the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) and to The National Arts Council (NAC) who, in 2008 supported the project with a grant for presenting an excerpt from Requiem for the Living; Gauteng Opera and The Horizons Project, the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and Bongani Tembe; the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) and the University of Pretoria Orchestra; its media partner Beeld newspaper; De Kat magazine for photographs; artist-photographer Merwelene van der Merwe for art prints on RFTL symbolic themes; the Loreto Convent and Hoërskool Oosmoot, Pretoria choirs; Roedean School, Johannesburg for the rehearsal venues and support; and RFTL’s two esteemed patrons, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and South African Diva Mimi Coertse.
Tickets: R120 – R250.
General enquiries: Rexleigh Bunyard – firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit www.reqliving.org for more information.