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Requiems for the 21st Century

a radio feature produced by Michael Shirrefs



How do requiems help atheists and heathens to grieve in the 21st Century?


It is amazing that in a multicultural, pluralistic, globalised world, composers still write requiems, and the bereaved still mourn to requiems. But from the 19th Century on, composers started to take the Catholic requiem out of the exclusive domain of the church. Through the 20th Century the form became increasingly abstracted and in a way secularised, to a point where today we have works that are not merely ecumenical—they’re universally accessible.


In this program we hear about two contemporary composers, Gavin Bryars and Rami Khalifé, with two very distinct motivations for writing requiems, despite having no particular religious affiliations.

Listen to the program here …

EarshotRequiems for the 21st Century

First broadcast on Earshot, ABC RN, on 21-5-2015



Prof. Jane Davidson—Music psychologist, Professor of Creative and Performing Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, and Deputy Director of the Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions

Hugh Macdonald—Musicologist

Gavin Bryars—English composer and musician

Rami Khalifé—Lebanon-born composer and musician


Further Information

Gavin Bryars website

Rami Khalifé website



Producer—Michael Shirrefs

Sound Engineers—Garry Havrillay & Richard Girvan


Music details

Track Title: Fauré: Requiem—Introit et Kyrie
Artist: Olaf Bar/Anne Murray/King’s College Choir/English Chamber Orchestra/Stephen Cleobury
CD Title: Fauré:Requiem,Op.48/Duruflé:Requiem,Op.9
Composer: Gabriel Fauré
Publisher: EMI, CDC7498802 (1989)


Track Title: Mozart: Requiem—Requiem aeternam
Artist:  Manahan Thomas/Christine Rice/James Gilchrist/Christopher Purves/King’s College Choir/Academy Of Ancient Music/Stephen Cleobury
CD Title: Mozart:Requiem in Dmin,K626
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Publisher: King’s College, KGS0002 (2013)


Track Title:  BerliozRequiem—Requiem et Kyrie
Artist: Robert Murray/Gabrieli Players/Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra/Chetham’s School Of Music Symphonic Brass Ensemble/Gabrieli Consort/Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir/Paul Mccreesh (Ensemble Wroclaw)
CD Title: Berlioz:Requiem,Op.5 (1837) Grande Messe Des Morts
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Publisher: Signum, SIGCD280 (2011)


Track Title: BrittenWar Requiem—Requiem Aeternam
Artist: Susan Gritton/John Mark Ainsley/Christopher Maltman/Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir/Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme/New College Choir Trebles/Gabrieli Consort And Players/Paul Mccreesh
CD Title: Britten: War Requiem,Op.66
Composer: Benjamin Britten
Publisher: Signum, SIGCD340 (2013)


Track Title: Bryars: Cadman Requiem—Requiem
Artist: Hilliard Ensemble/Fretwork
CD Title: Gavin Bryars; Cadman Requiem
Composer: Gavin Bryars
Publisher: Point Music, 462-511-2 (1998)


Track Title: Henze: Requiem—Lacrimosa
Artist: Ueli Wiget/Håkan Hardenberger/Ensemble Modern/Ingo Metzmacher
CD Title: Henze: Requiem
Composer: Hans Werner Henze
Publisher: Sony Classical, SK-58972 (1994) 


Track Title: Penerecki: Polnisches Requiem—Libera Me
Artist: Ingrid Haubold/Grazyna Winogrodska/Zachos Terzakis/Malcolm Smith/Bavarian Radio Choir/North German Radio Symphony Choir And Orchestra/Krzysztof Penderecki
CD Title: Penerecki: Polnisches Requiem
Composer: Krzysztof Penderecki
Publisher: Deutsche Grammophon, 429-721-2 (1990)


Track Title: Khalifé: Requiem (unpublished)
Composer: Rami Khalifé




© 2015—Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN