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James Drew-Edwards
1952 -
Great Britain, England
J. Drew-Edwards
James Drew-Edwards (1952), an English composer, conductor and teacher.
Drew-Edwards: "I teach piano (all styles), and can also accompany singers & instrumentalists. I also teach composition (ensemble, vocal, instrumental, orchestral, and song writing - this can include working with Sibelius), arranging, improvisation, musical theory, and keyboard harmony. I have taught class music in schools for 11 years (ages 9-18 year olds), 'O' level (GCSE), 'A' level, and 'S' level (which no longer exists). I have written incidental music for plays, many songs, instrumental music, choral music, songs for musicals, a musical with author Leon Garfield, various orchestral pieces, a Requiem (performed at St. John's Smith Square in March 2011), etc."
Requiem Concert for Claire
Period:21st century
Composed in:2011
Musical form:mass
Text/libretto:Latin mass
In memory of:Claire Bushnell, the composer's sister
Label(s):New World Music CD 077
This Requiem contains:
01. Requiem Aeternam 09:19
02. Kyrie 03:35
03. Sanctus 03:37
04. Benedictus 03:21
05. Agnus Dei 04:24
06. Lux Aeterna 05:14
07. In Paradisum 04:37
08. Pro Vivis 07:01
When James Drew-Edwards received a phone call, almost exactly a year ago, telling him that his sister was dead, the composer's thoughts turned, naturally, to music. The fact that Claire had taken her own life made it, as James says now, all the more urgent that he compose a requiem for her. "It was a cathartic process for me," he says on the eve of a concert for Claire in aid of Mind, the mental health charity. "It helped me come to terms with her death and consider the actual moment when she died." In this respect, James, 58, who lives in East Finchley, has written an unorthodox requiem - taken from a shorter piece he wrote for her funeral last year. "The usual language of a requiem is littered with words of guilt, anger and God's wrath. I have written a requiem - as in a laying to rest - but the theme of mine is lux aeterna, eternal light. So where a traditional requiem is dark and cross, mine is light and sweet but also dramatic, reflecting Claire's life and the way she passed from this world into the next. I have also added a new end section called Pro Vivis, for the living, because it is Claire's family and friends who need help to go on without her." Claire Bushnell, 54, had completed a spell at The Priory Hospital in Southgate, and was on her way home to her family in Saffron Walden, Essex. "She had phoned her husband, Patrick, early on the morning of Friday March 19 last year and said she was coming home. He said she sounded fine. She travelled three stops from Southgate and got out at Wood Green. She threw herself under the next Tube that came into the station." James has no idea why his sister suddenly decided to kill herself. "I went to the station the day after she died and spoke to the staff. They were so kind but there was no one factor between her conversation with Patrick and her death which would explain why she suddenly did what she did." Claire, who has three children, Matt, 25, Ollie, 23, and Nicky, 20, had been suffering from depression for around 15 years. "She was in a great state of anguish towards the end of her life and I think she was overwhelmed by hopelessness about her situation," says James, who as well as being a classical composer and pianist, teaches t'ai chi. Claire had become involved in the work of Camfed, a charity helping impoverished women educate themselves in sub-Saharan Africa, and this will also benefit from ticket, programme and CD sales at the concert at St John's, Smith Square, tomorrow night. The 47-strong professional orchestra and everyone involved in the concert have given their services for free. "It is a fitting way to remember Claire and I hope as many people as the church will hold will turn up to support these two great causes," says James.
Author:Deborah Collcutt
Source:London Evening Standard, 8 March 2011
This Requiem came about as a result of a short piece for piano that I played at my sister‘s funeral. The piano piece was a combination of two ideas, one that I‘d been playing with for about 15 years and another that happened two weeks before the funeral. In the end, as much as I wanted to include the 15 year old idea, I was unable to … it was essentially a piano piece, and needed to stay as such; however, the more recent idea, being conceived as a vocal idea, was very useable. As I wrote the Requiem, I was aware that my sister had been in a state of turmoil for many years. In the last six years, I knew that she felt emotionally very unstable, bouncing from deep depression, to anger, to euphoria, and occasionally to a state of calmness where she seemed to find repose, but I don‘t think that any of us knew quite how serious her condition was and to what extent she was struggling within. So the Requiem was written bearing in mind her turmoil, anger, and depression, interspersed with those times (often many months) of happiness and calm. The text that I have set is the same as that used by many other composers, but I have omitted anything to do with God‘s anger, Hell, damnation, wrath, judgment, guilt, vengeance, punishment, fire and burning, weeping, ashes, etc.; in other words, all 9 sections of what is often grouped under 'Dies Irae‘. For the same reason I also didn‘t use the Offertorium, Hostias, and Libera Me. Therefore any feelings of anger and unrest in the music are not to do with God‘s anger, but more to do with the feelings that I think Claire was facing. Perhaps this is most apparent in the Lux Aeternum, which I viewed as the moment of transition from life to death. I have added one extra 'movement‘ at the end entitled 'Pro Vivis‘, 'For the Living‘, as it seemed to me that we are the ones who are left here, and we are the ones who have to come to terms with the shifting of our lives when someone close to us dies. Having written the simple words, I translated them into Latin (something I hadn‘t attempted for 40 plus years), and then gave them to a friend, Nigel Siddall, who is a Classics scholar, and to whom I‘m very grateful for his corrections.
Author:James Drew-Edwards
Claire Bushnell