Requiem for Solace
by Kim André Arnesen

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Te Deum, In Paradisum, and Psalm of Ascension
by Dan Forrest

Spring 2019 Concert Notes

Tina Johns Heidrich, Conductor
Joseph Jacovino, Jr., Accompanist
Connecticut Master Chorale Orchestra

Sunday April 7, 2019 - 3:00pm
First Congregational Church, Danbury, Connecticut

- Tickets - Directions -
Kim André Arnesen

Kim André Arnesen
b. 1980

Requiem for Solace
– Kim André Arnesen

Notes from the Composer

My first experience with a Requiem was as a boy soprano at the age of 12 singing Mozart's Requiem. It was my favorite work in the choir and I remember sitting at the piano many times at home, playing the whole work myself. Later I discovered the Requiems by Faure, Durufle, Lloyd-Webber, Schnittke, and many others and had some great experiences with them. In fact I started to buy recordings of every Requiem I could find. With my fascination of Requiems I have wanted to write one myself for many years, and when I was commissioned to write a big work for the boys choir I had performed Mozart's Requiem with as a child, I was certain I wanted to write a Requiem dedicated to them. Although I knew it was going to be challenging, I had overcome the fear of writing a work with a text that so many of the great composers had used before me. I felt ready to make a Requiem that could be different and in my own idioms and reflections. To make room for a couple of new texts I did't use the complete text of the Requiem Mass. I wanted a text that could be inspiring for people who can't find a meaning to their life. I found Emily Dickinson's Not in Vain and decided to make it a part of my Requiem. It's a text that tells us that in helping others, we can give our life meaning. We too often measure success in recognition, achievements, social status etc, and I think this poem is showing us instead how to feel successful by what we do for others. My Requiem is not dedicated to the memory of any particular person or group. I wanted to write a Requiem that could provide some solace to people who are in pain and grieving, or to assist in a moment of remembrance and honoring the loved ones who we are missing.

Dan Forrest

Dan Forrest
b. 1978

Te Deum, In Paradisum, and Psalm of Ascension
– Dan Forrest

Notes from the Composer

Te Deum

Setting a Te Deum is no small task for any composer. At this point in music history, hundreds of settings have been written over several centuries, and many have entered the standard repertoire for chorus and orchestra. Nonetheless, the text appealed to me with its unshakeable affirmation of bedrock truths about the triune God, and I set out to find a way to create a setting of my own.

I started with the big-picture view of the text, thinking through the macro-shape of the work as a whole. Early on, I decided to write three separate movements, to allow three separate musical ideas. I tried, however, to present sections of text in a different musical light than the more common Te Deum settings of which I was aware. This led me toward a quiet, reverent prayer for "0 Lord, saveThy people..." and "Vouchsafe, 0 Lord...". Since these prayers were not part of the original Te Deum text but were added on later, I took the liberty of placing the Prayers in between the other two traditional sections, thus creating a quiet contrast between the larger settings of the two other sections.

From there, the music came into place. Overall, the musical style combines elements of ancient music, tonal music, and more modern music, as homage to the long history of the Te Deum in the worship of the church. Opportunities for musical text painting abound, with some being rather obvious and others being more veiled (i.e. the key relationships between the members of the Trinity).

In Paradisum

In Paradisum...takes its title more from Scripture than from the liturgical "In Paradisum" Requiem movement. This setting uses a wide diversity of Scriptural texts, which, though written thousands of years apart, all speak to mankind's burning desire to glimpse the afterlife by revealing the compassionate character and precious promises of God to His people. The opening bars present massive chords in a highly animated texture; these "pillars" not only represent the unshakeable truths which follow, but also serve as a musical basis from which most of the rest of the piece is constructed. The first main section sets "Precious in the sight of the Lord..." text, as well as "I go to prepare a place for you...". A second section (which uses portions of Revelation) uses the flatted seventh scale degree (taken from the opening "pillar chords") to symbolize sorrow, pain, and tears. This flatted seventh gives way, symbolically, to the raised seventh scale degree, picturing God's tenderly "wiping away all tears". Eventually, the "pillar chords" return, this time setting the one occurrence of the phrase "in paradise" from Scripture (Christ's words from the cross to the dying thief) which provides a thrilling glimpse into eternity. Near the end of the piece, one more glimpse of the "tears" idea appears, but it quickly (and again, symbolically) disappears into the settled rest of the closing section, which includes a "new song", calling from eternity "on high."