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John Starr Alexander
20th - century
United States of America
J.S. Alexander
John Starr Alexander (20th century), an American composer. Originally from Homer, New York, John Starr Alexander has been teaching choral music at ‘Iolani School in Honolulu, Hawai‘i since 1982, during which time he has served as musical director, vocal director and/or pianist for dozens of musicals produced by various theatrical institutions around Honolulu. He spent two years as a linguistics major at Georgetown University, and eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dramatic Arts and Literature from The George Washington University, also in Washington, D.C. He has served as president and vice-president of the Hawai’i Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. John was a member of the St. Andrew’s Cathedral Choir for 25 years and is now the choir director for the contemporary worship service at The Lutheran Church of Honolulu. He writes and arranges choral and instrumental music; and occasionally he can be seen playing piano and singing at various night spots around town. His favorite pastimes are hiking and lei making, but his first love is composition.
Period:21st century
Composed in:2001
Requiem for SATB with optional instrumental ensemble.
I composed my Requiem while on a sabbatical from ‘Iolani School in the fall of 1998. John McCreary, who taught at ‘Iolani School for 22 years and was the school’s organist for 27 years (and continued as accompanist of the Chorus of ‘Iolani School until his death at age 83), mentored me through the process of finding the correct texts for the Requiem, their proper order, teaching me which are mandatory and which are optional as a musical work, and where to find the best translations from the Latin for each. In so doing, John McCreary helped to ensure that the piece could be sung at a funeral Mass as appropriate service music. I shared my then-recent creation with Henry Leck, a prominent choral director from Butler University in Indiana. Henry was in town as the clinician for the 2000 Hawai’i High School All-State Honor Choir, which I helped to organize and run. He loved it so much that he asked me to teach it to the honor choir, and they performed it a few days later at their concerts at BYU-Hawai’i and Kawaiaha’o Church. My own students performed it at their 1999 spring concert. Henry Leck was so taken with my piece that he had it published as part of his choral series with Colla Voce Music, Inc., the first of several dozen pieces published by Colla Voce. My Requiem has since been performed all over the United States. Additionally, during several summers in the early 2000’s, Henry Leck served as the director of the 500-voice Tuscany International Children’s Choral Festival Choir; they performed an all-treble version of it at several venues in Italy, including at the Vatican. My inspiration for the small chamber orchestra accompaniment came from Requiem of English composer John Rutter. I like the sparse, soloistic quality of the instruments, each of which stands in for an entire section within a larger symphonic orchestra. In my opinion, the cello in my Requiem is the 5th voice, singing along with soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The Pie Jesu movement, placed squarely in the middle of the piece, was written several years later on the anniversary of the passing of a close friend, Kenny Cruz, to whom I have dedicated the entire work. For me, the Pie Jesu is the best thing I’ve ever written, choral or instrumental.
Author:John Starr Alexander