Soprano and baritone soloists, SATB chorus, and orchestra
Text: Requiem Mass and The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
Duration: 35′
Commissioned by Wimbledon Choral Society and conductor, Neil Ferris
Oxford University Press (2019)
First performance 7 May, 2019 | Wimbledon Choral Society | Kate Royal, soprano, Roderick Williams, baritone | The Philharmonia Orchestra, conductor, Neil Ferris | Royal Festival Hall, London, UK

This significant seven-movement work from Cecilia McDowall presents an imaginative pairing of extracts from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci with texts from the Latin Missa pro defunctis. Da Vinci’s reflective and penetrating insights into the nature of mortality and all that it encompasses cast new light on the familiar Requiem texts, and McDowall employs her orchestral forces to create a rich, atmospheric backdrop to the profound narrative presented by the chorus and soprano and baritone soloists. Dark, sonorous writing precedes an energetic ‘Sanctus’, and the closing bars of the luminous ‘Lux aeterna’ create a powerful allusion to da Vinci’s concept of ‘The Perspective of Disappearance’.

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‘This Requiem proved a tribute not just to Leonardo, but to the composer, and the flair and imagination of the choir that commissioned it, and poured life into it so admirably and intelligently.’

‘Cecilia McDowall’s Da Vinci Requiem skilfully interweaves the text of the Mass for the Dead with various writings of or about the great Renaissance Man. The result is a powerfully communicative addition to the repertoire. Not only is the choral writing vibrant but colourful use is made of the orchestra, most notably in the way singing lines are enhanced by harp, glockenspiel and vibraphone.’

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