This work is a new secular “Requiem” as a memorial to the victims of COVID-19 and a way to reflect and heal as a community in music. I composed this 25-minute choral piece with a chamber orchestra created to help people heal in a ritual gathering and lifting of voices, something that has been silenced for too long. As ensembles begin to reconvene, they will need music to commemorate the ordeal of the pandemic, the lives and opportunities lost, and to finally rekindle hope. As a composer I cannot develop a vaccine, but I felt called to make music to bring consolation in this time that has indelibly touched us all.

Instrumentation:
Choir SATB
2 Soloists
Chamber Orchestra

𝗢𝗿𝗰𝗵𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗮 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻
𝗪𝗼𝗼𝗱𝘄𝗶𝗻𝗱𝘀: 1 Flute, 1 Oboe, 1 Clarinet, 1 Bassoon; 𝗕𝗿𝗮𝘀𝘀: 2 Horns, 1 Trumpet, 1 Trombone, 1 Tuba, 1 Harp, 1 Piano, 1 Timpanist, 2 Percussionists; 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀: Violin I, Violin II, Viola, Cello, Double bass;

Duration: 25 minutes (estimated)

Difficulty: Medium Difficult

𝗢𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗶𝗻𝘀: To make music about the pandemic was never my intention, but in January 2021 something snapped inside. A friend lost her husband, the U.S. had hit the 400,000 death toll mark, and the statistics around the world soared as our spirits dove lower and lower. With there having been so much suffering and loss of life, I felt called to make a new work, a ritual work, to come together in large forces as soon as we were able.

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗰𝗲𝘀𝘀: Much of the text I wrote in early 2021 as a way to reflect on the pandemic experience with the intention of creating a new work to help musicians, people, and ensembles heal and come together again. Over many months I polished and refined the collection of texts and began the process of text setting at the piano. Part of the joy of a consortium commission was the gift of having dedicated partners engaged in the process, and I received anonymous submissions of words, memories, texts from choir members which I wove into the final text. The orchestration brought even more life into the work with varied colors and textures to support the choir. The project delivery also included a performable piano accompaniment score and individual orchestra parts.

Consortium Commission Members:
With gratitude to the visionaries who made this new work possible: Trinity University (Gary Seighman); University of the Incarnate Word (Bill Gokelman); Young Professionals Choral Collective (Danielle Steele)


Lyrics

The text is a collage of original poems by the composer and reflections by choir members that speaks to our time of suffering, myriad emotions, and grief during the pandemic.


I. “Let us breathe”

In out in out
In out in out
Let us breathe
In out in out
Let us breathe again
Let us breathe
Alone, together
In out in out
Let us breathe
As nature intended
Let us breathe
Let us smile
May our lungs
Fill with air
Without fear
Without care
In out in out
Let us breathe again
Alone, together
Let us breathe


II. “Release”

Gentle souls, may you feel release from suffering.
May you find peace.
Numb. Numb, from the incredible ups and downs.
Weary souls, may you feel release from suffering.
May you find peace.
It was a combined feeling of opportunity and concern.
Anxious souls, may you feel release from suffering.
May you find peace.
As the world stopped, time was both limitless and scarily finite.
Angry souls, may you feel release from suffering.
May you find peace.
Uncertainty in darkness.
Fearful souls, may you feel release from suffering.
May you find peace.
Gentle souls, may you feel release from suffering.
May you find peace.


III. “Grief”

What are the words for this sorrow?
For this pressure I feel?
Pearls cloud the view of tomorrow,
My heart in a frozen grip.

Where are the words for this moment?
For this disbelief I feel?
Many tears yearn to lament,
My mind in a maze of mist.

What are the words to heal?
My soul in a thundercloud,
ready to burst and reveal
and water their fresh graves.


IV. “They cared for us”

They cared for us 
and we thank them.
We had freedom to explore, 
but restrictions to stay.
They cared for us
and we honor them.
They were a family 
to come home to 
and forget –
They care for us
and we care for them.
They were like a lighthouse 
in the darkness at the time. 
They care for us
and we sing for them.


V. “Fine”

Fine. Fine.
I’m fine. We’re fine.
Fine. Could be worse.
I am fine. We’re fine.

How are you?
How are you doing?
How’s your family?
How d’you do?
How was your day?
Hi
Hi, hello


VI. “The loneliness duet”

Frightful, but riveting. 
Uncertain, yet relieving.

The meaninglessness of time
connected to the meaningfulness of time
and made the longest days 
but the shortest months- 

Frightful, but riveting. 
Uncertain, yet relieving.

The silence. What silence?
Like static of an old tape recorder…
More like the clock stopping…
Sudden emptiness/chaos surrounds me.
I can only / I cannot hear myself think.

My children climb up the walls…
Every day is the same,
confinement, worry,
so much work!

Every day I ask, if I dare,
‘When can I have a break?’

The loneliness pushes on my walls…
Every day is the same,
in this windowless cave,
so much work!

In loneliness and confusion, 
I found quality time with my family. 
I fear for the future, fear for my safety, and for the
safety of those around me. 

There is something calm about it.
For the first time, 
it was an ability to take a deep breath. 
It was a needed revelation 
in an unfortunate circumstance.

The meaninglessness of time 
connected to the meaningfulness of time
and made the longest days 
but the shortest months- 

Frightful…and riveting…
Even though everyone is going through it
together I feel alone. 


VII. “Affirmation”

We affirm our will to heal.
We affirm our wish to grow.
We accept our fragility.

In love of those who’ve gone.


VIII. “Conversations”

spoken: Continuing to make music honestly kept me sane.

Doubt.
Distance
Desolate
Separated

spoken: I ask, “When did the Golden Rule become tarnished?”

Solitary
Scared
Stillness
Cross

spoken: I lost all of my friends. I had to start over, but I found my people. 

Quick
Confusion.
Community.
Cocoon

spoken: I feel like I met my dad for the first time.

Unceasing reflection.
Uncomfortable
Unprecedented
Unknown

spoken: …I rediscovered myself and remembered that I was something beyond what I do.

Torn. 
Alone
Temporary
Anxiety

spoken: Consonants? What consonants? I felt stifled, my face was trapped in like a sauna. Seeing all of everyone’s faces is so surreal! I tell people “the top half of your face doesn’t match the bottom half.”


IX. “We sing together to remember”

We sing together to remember those who were lost.
With time we can heal together.

Music felt like something taken for granted
once it was lost. 
Yet it showed a strange power to bind us all
even as we were apart.
As our voices join together 
we can feel complete again.

We sing together to remember that which was lost.
Coming together through suffering
Coming together past pain.

Music was the thread that worked to patch us back together. 
Now as we sing together (in choir), 
we aren’t mending things back the way they were, 
but are adding new pieces of fabric to who we are.

We sing together to remember those who feel lost.
Breaking the long isolation
Holding hands through uncertainty.

It makes me think of a patchwork quilt. 
Music fills in the spaces in my heart 
with wonderful colors and patterns 
that weren’t there before 
but exist beautifully in this new space.

We sing together to remember those who were lost.
With time we can heal together.
Live in our hearts until their rhythm slows
Stay in our minds as a precious melody

We can heal together
in memory of you.


[Date of text preview: June 2, 2022
Copyright (c) 2022 by Yvonne Freckmann]