Modern Classics: John Rutter’s Requiem

Modern Classics: John Rutter’s Requiem

John Rutter’s Requiem, composed in 1985, has become a fixture of choral repertoire all over the world. Often compared to Fauré’s Requiem, it subtly walks the line between modern style and a romantic affinity for melody that is characteristic of Rutter’s music. Like Faure’s, Rutter’s Requiem is more poignant than morose, yet still profoundly moving. Although there are many similarities between the two works, Rutter drew on his personal heritage to make the Requiem his own.

John Rutter was born in London and became involved in music at a young age. When he was just 17 he participated with his high school choir in the first recording of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. In addition, Rutter’s Anglican heritage exposed him to liturgical choral practices, giving him a holistic education in English choral music. No doubt these experiences directly informed his musical style and the composition of his Requiem.

Unlike many previous Requiems, Rutter’s includes not only the traditional Greek and Latin text, but English text as well. The second movement, entitled “Out of the Deep,” is derived from the English text of Psalm 130. This Psalm is commonly recited at Anglican funerals, making its addition to the Requiem an organic homage to Rutter’s upbringing. The final two movements of the work also use English text, including Psalm 23 (another text frequently used in Anglican funerals) and text from the Book of Common Prayer, a hymnal that dates back to the founding of the Anglican Church. This juxtaposition of disparate traditions gives Rutter’s Requiem a unique, relatable tone that has resonated with audiences for decades.

Drawing of the Basilica di Santo Spirito
The Basilica di Santo Spirito in Florence, Italy

Rutter’s Requiem will be performed April 6, 2017 in Carnegie Hall under the baton of J. Edmund Hughes. In addition, Rutter himself will lead a performance of his Requiem in Florence, Italy in 2018 in his Florence conducting debut with MidAm International.

Over the past 34 years MidAmerica Productions has produced over 1300 concerts in Carnegie Hall and at historic venues worldwide. To perform with John Rutter in Florence or to attend the performance of his Requiem in Carnegie Hall call us at 212-239-0205 or visit us at www.midamerica-music.com .

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