Instrumentation SSATB choir and piano
Timing ca. 4’10”
Poem by Suzanne Steele
World Premiere July 3, 2015, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Calgary Philharmonic Chorus; Timothy Shantz, conductor
Performance Note This work requires a solo SATB quartet drawn from the full choir
In 2012, poet Suzanne Steele and composer Jeffrey Ryan collaborated on Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, a major oratorio commissioned by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and One Yellow Rabbit, setting Steele’s original writings as Canada’s war poet in Afghanistan along with fragments of the Latin Requiem Mass. Two Days is drawn from the Requiem’s Offertorium movement. Steele’s poem, in English and French, explores the anguish of those left behind when a soldier is killed two days before returning home. The musical setting juxtaposes Steele’s words in the full chorus with a fragment of the Latin Offertorium text intoned by a concertante vocal quartet. Though based on a true story, Two Days speaks to all of us who have lost someone too soon.
The chorus “if we could give you two days, just those two days,” written for the soldier who died 48 hours before his tour of duty was to have ended, formed a moving artistic centrepiece for this remarkable movement that should ensure its place as a cornerstone of the Canadian music repertoire. It ought to be played every Remembrance Day. (Stephan Bonfield/Calgary Herald)
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