In 2010 the tenor aria “Kyrie” was introduced into my continuing creation of the Dies Magna Requiem cycle. Although I had composed the music in a very different form years earlier, inclusion of the revised version in the larger cycle seemed predestined.
The Dies Magna Requiem is a pathway leading out of the despair brought forth by the tragedy of 9/11. It is music that calls us to move ahead with a new sense of humanity. It imparts an understanding that transcends the horrific events of that day. Originally composed to commemorate the first responders who lost their lives that day in New York City, the essence of the Dies Magna Requiem (Day of Great Magnitude) is one of hope and optimism as we look towards the future.
“Kyrie” (“Lord, Have Mercy”) is a cornerstone within this larger work. A song for solo voice and cello with organ accompaniment, it is a reworking of music I had composed in the 1990’s. That original wordless music had been my response to a children’s book, “The Faithful Elephants” by Yukio Tsuchiya. The story is based on real events from World War II in which the Japanese Army ordered that large animals at the Tokyo Ueno Zoo be poisoned to avoid a chaotic scenario of straying creatures should the city be bombed. This heartbreaking story had inspired me to compose a plea for peace transcending all kinds of wars.
Following the ravages of 9/11, the message of my original music rang so strongly in me that I revised it. This Kyrie is a personal supplication, and, at the same time, is intended as a source of comfort for singers and listeners in many different settings.
In our world of innumerable conflicts and tragedies, “Kyrie” has found universal relevance as a work unto itself for performance outside the Dies Magna Requiem.