“Requiem for the Living,” a choral piece by BJU alumnus and world-renowned composer Dan Forrest, will be performed on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in Rodeheaver Auditorium by multiple BJU choirs and an orchestra for homecoming week.
This musical supergroup is made up of the Chorale, Collegiate and Concert choirs as well as a 36-piece orchestra. In addition to these student groups, alumni will be joining both the choir and the orchestra for the third annual homecoming concert.
Dr. Warren Cook, conductor of the university Chorale and Chamber Singers, will conduct the requiem for the homecoming concert. He said that, although this six-movement piece contains similarities to typical requiems, it differs significantly from the typical requiem.
“It’s a funeral prayer,” Cook said. “But Dan’s take on it is [that it’s] for the living—pleas for mercy and rest.” He said the main point of the composition is Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
This verse is included near the end of the requiem, and it’s the first time throughout the entire piece that the choir sings in English instead of in Latin.
In an interview published by the sheet music company J.W. Pepper, Forrest said the verse is sung in English to make it more personal.
“It’s the first time you hear any English in the whole 35-40-minute work,” Forrest said. He also prefers the verse to be translated into the audience’s native tongue for international performances.
Later in the same interview, Forrest said he wants his listeners to get the rest that the requiem prays for.
“I feel like the answer to that prayer has already been given to us,” Forrest said. “And I just wanted to take us along that journey of working through grief and pain in this world, looking to Christ for redemption.” He also hopes its clear that the word “rest” in Matthew 28:11 corresponds with the word “requiem,” pointing to Christ as the answer to the prayer for rest.
The requiem will be performed during homecoming week to welcome back former BJU choir members. According to Cook, the program is an opportunity for alumni to relive their college experience of music concerts, either as an audience member or a performer.
“The fifty-year-old will not be able to come back and play soccer like he wants to, but he can come back and sing like he sang when he was in college,” he said.
Chorale, along with the orchestra, will also perform “Requiem for the Living” for the South Carolina Association of Chorale Directors Convention on Friday, Oct. 5, in Charleston.