Premier of Ching’s ‘Requiem’

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Rosalinda L. Orosa

Rosalinda L. Orosa

Herewith is an official announcement of the premier of Ching’s “Requiem” and detailed description of his work.

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On April 9, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, with the support of Makati Diamond Residences and the German Embassy Manila, will be presenting the world premiere of German-based Filipino composer Jeffrey Ching’s A Chamber Requiem, his intensely personal completion, transcription, and elaboration of the famous Requiem Mass left unfinished by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at his death on December 5, 1791.The soloists are the Berlin-trained Filipino soprano Andión Fernández (the composer’s wife) and the German bass-baritone Lars Grünwoldt, accompanied by sixvirtuosi of the Modern Art Ensemble from Berlin. The same performers will repeat the work in Berlin at its European premiere a week later on April 17, 2016.

Ching has set aside all existing completions by Süssmayr and other composers and examined Mozart’s manuscript sketches with a fresh eye. In particular he has made a close study of Mozart’s compositional procedures, and on this basis written new completions of the fragmentary Lacrymosa and Osanna fugues on a broader scale than any previously attempted.

As most of the intended orchestration is blank in Mozart’s autograph, Ching has opted simply to omit chorus and orchestra and re-apportion all the music among just eight performers—soprano, bass-baritone, flautist, clarinettist, violinist, violist, cellist, and pianist. The resulting gain in intimacy and transparency then left room for Ching’s invention of countless new harmonic, timbral, and contrapuntal details.

Ching early on made the decision not to attempt any re-constructions of the movements for which absolutely no manuscript material survives—namely, the Sanctus and Agnus Dei—but rather to compose them denovo entirely in his own, twenty-first century idiom.

Probably the most radical feature of A Chamber Requiem is its unusual treatment Gregorian plainchant. The Graduale and Tractus (in a clear allusion by the composer to his Chinese ancestry) incorporate parts of a Chinese hymn once chanted exclusively in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing each winter solstice. The hymn employs an arcane Qing dynasty scale of highly unequal intervals that clash or blend with the Gregorian melodies.

The scale returns in the Responsorium in a distorted version of the preceding Cumsanctistuis fugue in combination with the plainchant ‘Libera me’.

The score itself and its first performance are dedicated to the memory of Ms Fernández’ mother, Atty. Celia Fernández, who passed away on January 25, 2016.

The composer and performers wish publicly to acknowledge their debt to Renato Lucas and Dino Decena for the loan of extra string instruments that have had to be completely re-strung and re-tuned in unconventional ways to reproduce the unequal intervals of the Qing dynasty scale.

The world premiere of Ching’s A Chamber Requiem takes place on April 9, at 7.30 p.m. in the CCP Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater).

 ‘East Calm, West Calm,’ acrylic on canvas, 91.5x91.5 c.m. (2016)

‘East Calm, West Calm,’ acrylic on canvas, 91.5×91.5 c.m. (2016)

Syjucos’ art exhibit
A.G, Maxine and Julian Syjuco, children of the painter, poet, critic and singer Cesare A.X. Syjuco and artist Jean Marie, launched Art Band’s new album Who’s Listening to Van Gogh’s Ear?

The album was produced in Chicago by A.G. Syjuco for Art Lab Manila at 325 Country Club Drive, Alabang, where the album is available.

Meanwhile, Sequi Cu-Unjieng’s One Fine Day will be on exhibit from April 7 to May 7 at the lobby lounge of Makati Shangri-la.

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