Master Works Concert includes ‘Requiem for a Living’ premiere

The sound of music has the power to bring life to a room, present soulful unspoken words, and create harmony in the lives of people who choose to listen.

With much appreciation for classical music, the Mabee Ballrooms were full with people of all ages on Sunday for the Spring 2015 Masterworks Concert. 

They listened to pieces conducted by Orchestra Director Robert Radmer and Vocal Coordinator H. Morris Stevens.

The St. Edward’s University Orchestra, Chorale, Masterwork Singers and the Madrigal Chamber Singers collaborated for the Central Texas premiere of a musical movement titled “Requiem for the Living” arranged by Dan Forrest.

“It’s a breathtaking piece that is very difficult, and was beautifully done, and that’s from someone who knows,” Brother Gerald Mueller said.

Mueller, 88, is a Brother of the Holy Cross and current Assistant Professor of Music. He has previously conducted many musical concerts with the Hilltopper Chorale and was also the former music director for the Mary Moody Northen theatre productions for many years.

“Requiem for the Living” is a medley of liturgical Latin songs which serve as a traditional prayer for the deceased, as well as for the living, who have their own earthly struggles. 

Dan Forrest’s 2013 arrangement, “Requiem for the Living” also included “Introit–Kyrie,” “Vanitas Vanitatum,” “Agnus Dei,” “Sanctus.” and “Lux Aeterna.”

“Dan Forrest is such an amazing and young composer (37), I think it’s incredible that he created such an epic work like ‘Requiem for the Living,’” freshman Madrigal Chamber Singer Rebecca Darling said. 

“I really enjoyed watching the audience’s faces and seeing how moved they were by the pieces,” said Darling. 

In addition, the St. Edward’s Orchestra performed the well-known “American Salute” by Morton Gould and an intense rendition of “Phedre Overture” by Jules Massenet.

This night of music also connected the past with the present and future through some of the musicians involved. 

As the St. Edward’s music program founder, Mueller, was honored on his birthday, Stevens conducted the chorus, which featured a soprano solo from a former high school student of his, Annie Byron Blacken. 

Blacken is now a choir teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She brought alond sixth-grader Charlie Welland to sing the male soprano solo. 

All of the musicians involved with the production are either St. Edward’s students and staff, volunteers, alumni, or community members who all share a passion for music.

There will be another performance of “Requiem for the Living” on Thursday, at St. Theresa Catholic Church (4311 Small Dr.) in Austin at 7:30 p.m.