Commissioned by the Choir of London with the generous support of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust
The minimum number of string players required is 126.96.36.199.1. As the violas and cellos are largely divisi throughout, it is important when using a small group of performers for balance to be maintained using the following guide: 188.8.131.52.1 or 184.108.40.206.2 or 220.127.116.11.2 with the division of any larger group being at the conductor's discretion.
Threnody was commissioned with funds from The RVW Trust for the inaugural concert of the Choir of London conducted by Jeremy Summerly in Christ Church, Spitalfields on 18th December, 2004; the work was subsequently toured by the Choir to Jerusalem and the West Bank from 19th December to 26th December, 2004.
I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Bruce Ruben and Judith Clurman, as well as that of my parents, with the collation of the texts.
New York, August 2004
When death takes off the mask, [we] will know one another,
though diverse liveries [we] wear here make [us] strangers.
William Penn (1644 – 1718),
from ‘Some Fruits of Solitude In Reflections And Maxims’ (1682)
Tremblest thou when my face appears
To thee? Wherefore thy dreadful fears?
Be easy, friend; ‘tis thy truest gain
To be far away from the sons of men.
I offer a couch to give thee ease:
Shall dreamless slumber so much displease?
Muhammad Rajab Al-Bayoumi (dates unknown),
from ‘Death Speaks’, translated by Arthur J. Arberry (1950)
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
William Blake (1757 – 1827),
from ‘Auguries of Innocence’ (1808)
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
for [people] to dwell together in unity.
from The Bible (King James Version)
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