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Joseph A. Estorninho
1959 -
Australia / Great Britain
Picture Picture
J.A. Estorninho
Joseph Estorninho (1959) graduated from Melbourne University where he studied under Felix Werder, gaining distinctions in composition. His interests have always been in the theatrical and dramatic aspects of music. While at university he wrote scores for the theatre productions there, which included, among other things, The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht. In 1981 his work, Duetto Op. 42 was performed on national radio. This work went on to receive third prize in that year's Spivakovsky scholarship. In 1982 he was commissioned to write a ballet for the Lygon Street Festa, which he co-wrote with fellow student Henry Vynhal. In 1983 his chamber work Portuguese Songs won a place in the University of New South Wales Composition Competition and was subsequently performed there to wide acclaim.
Estorninho has written three musicals. The first of which was commissioned and performed by Kilmoirah, a Catholic girls' school in Melbourne in 1987. He chose the story of Ruth from the Old Testament, which he thought apposite. This enjoyed some success and was subsequently performed at the National Theatre in Melbourne in 1995. The second of his musicals is still sitting on the shelf having reached the third round in the Vivian Ellis Prize 2000. In 2003 he wrote the third of his musicals, Noah's Ark, as a result of a commission from Durston House School.
In 2000 he wrote and performed his song cycle Stations of Love at St Margarets Church in Twickenham and St Mary Moorfields Church in London. The following year he returned to St Margarets with another performance of Stations of Love. In 2001 he wrote his Epiphany Mass to celebrate the occasion of the close of the holy year and the beginning of the new Millennium. This mass has enjoyed several performances.
His Requiem for the innocents was premiered at St Patrick's Church, Soho Square on the 27th October 2002, and subsequently at the Methodist Central Hall on the 29th June 2003 where it was favourable reviewed. In 2003 Durston House commissioned him a second time to write the incidental score for their production of The Odyssey. He wrote the Nuptial mass for his wedding in April 2004.
Requiem for the innocents
Period:21st century
Composed in:2002
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
Duration:ca.33'
In memory of:those women who have undergone an abortion or a miscarriage
Label(s):Herald HAVPCD295
Requiem for the innocents, composed in 2002, first performed and recorded in 2004, is for small orchestra, mixed choir, three soloists (soprano, mezzo, tenor).
This requiem contains:
- Introit and Kyrie 06:19
- Tuba mirum 03:50
- Rex tremendae 00:40
- Recordare 02:43
- Confutatis 01:37
- Domine, Jesu Christe 02:11
- Hostias 02:22
- Sanctus & Benedictus 04:52
- Pie Jesu 03:47
- Lux aeterna 04:56
"The idea of writing a requiem is by its very nature and it's associations with the dead, bound to seem quite a morbid task. On the surface it is little more than a mass for the dead, and so when I first thought of writing a requiem in January 2001 I was just a little curious as to how or why the idea came to me. I nevertheless began work and within a week had sketched the "Lacrimosa" and completed the "Pie Jesu".
Work then came to an abrupt halt as I struggled to find a reason to continue. I had spoken with several friends who suggested among other things, that we had some elderly acquaintances that may need a requiem quite soon, or that at worst, it would be a good exercise for me. In the meantime I decided to study the form more closely and by March had bought so many recordings of requiems that I'm sure the poor boy at my local HMV must have thought that I ran a Funeral Parlour. What I did learn about requiems is that no two are alike in form or content.
I had already agreed to a return engagement for my Stations of Love in April and so was distracted with rehearsals and various other preparations for the concert. After Easter the slate was clean with no commitments and the summer to look forward to. The requiem was still there to haunt me but without a very good reason I couldn't proceed.
I received the answer in late May while I was praying. The answer was simple. The answer was a question; "Why not write a Requiem for the Unborn Dead?" Within two weeks I had completed the sketches. It was as though the work was there all the time and only needed a reason to show itself.
A requiem mourns the passing of life and therefore recognises the existence of that life. Requiem for the innocents in the same way recognises that a life has been lost and mourns its passing. More importantly, it acknowledges that the life that was taken was indeed innocent. It is not by accident that the title alludes to the biblical massacre of the innocents, which depicts the slaughter of innocent children and babies for personal ambition.
There are many requiems, which have been written in commemoration of the passing of friends, or mentors. For example we have Britten's War requiem commissioned for the reopening of Coventry Cathedral, which was so badly devastated during the Second World War. But never before has a requiem been written which mourns the passing of all innocent life and especially those taken before birth.
Requiem for the innocents is not just about mourning and being pessimistic, however. Far from it, the profound sorrow at the loss of life only balances the importance and sanctity to which life is inextricably attached. Requiem for the innocents is indeed a celebration of life."
Author:Joseph A. Estorninho