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Tsunami Requiem


A moving and intense work telling the story of the devastating tsunami in 2004.

The Tsunami Requiem is going to be a work that makes people sit up and listen.


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Composer Chris Williams
Duration 20 minutes
Difficulty level Easy/Moderate
Orchestration French horn, 4 trumpets, 2 tenor trombones, 1 bass trombone, tuba, timpani and percussion (2 players), Organ OR Piano/organ only
Voice SATB/children

As a conductor, it is always rewarding to work with choirs on music that they feel excited, moved and challenged by. The Tsunami Requiem, which tells the story of the devastating tsunami which hit Nagapattinam, a fishing village in Tamil Nadu, South India in 2004, does all of that with its contrasting moods, beautifully brought to life by the music. From the effervescent opening to the calm lilting of the lullaby, from the stirring, dissonant Dies Irae to the final moving lament. The very emotive subject matter is brought home to the singers and audience in a real and accessible way.

Graham Wili

  • The first movement, Fishing Carol, tells the story of a typical day in a fishing village, beginning as the sun rises over the boats lined up on the shoreline. The children sing Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) as the boats are rolled out to sea.
  • The second movement, Pie Jesu, is a lullaby sung to calm the children who have a premonition of the tsunami.
  • The third movement is an instrumental interlude, the calm before the storm, which explodes into the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) depicting the tsunami itself. This lively, dissonant and stirring movement ends with the chorale-like Lachrymosa juxtaposed with the childrens bewilderment and despair at the destruction and loss, singing the words "Mother? Mother? Where have you gone?".
  • The final movement is a threnody (lament) set to the words of the Agnus Dei (0 Lamb of God) for unaccompanied choir. The movement builds in intensity as the brass enter, not with the choir, but answering them almost in sympathy.

Written for SATB choir, children's choir, brass, organ and percussion, this work is immensely powerful when performed in its entirety, however, it is also very flexible. Any of the four choral movements can be performed as stand alone pieces, with or without brass, equally at home in a small parish church or a large concert hall.

The work received with a standing ovation when performed at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008 and both singers and audiences were visibly moved by the music.



Tsunami Requiem

The Promenade Youth Choir sang this moving work on Sunday 20th March 2016. Every year I search for suitable works for my choir, and this has been one of the most rewarding new works I have come across. It is beautiful and accessible, whilst also being profound and deeply moving. It is a work that experienced choral societies would find easy, but with enough complexity and beauty to make it interesting, whilst for an inexperienced choir of children like mine it has a real wow factor and members grew to really love it.

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Tsunami Requiem

Tsunami Requiem

A moving and intense work telling the story of the devastating tsunami in 2004.

[blockquote author="Mastersinger" class=""]The Tsunami Requiem is going to be a work that makes people sit up and listen.[/blockquote]

Write a review

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