Dies Irae

soprano, men’s chorus TTBB and chamber ensemble
 Frauenfeld, Switzerland
 Winterthur, Switzerland

I was first asked for a work from our Russian friends for children's chorus and piano. It was at the time when the Chechen war was raging and so I wanted my piece to be a protest. I chose texts from Brigitte's father, Konrad Bänninger, Dies irae plus the original latin text from the requiem mass. We heard that it had been performed but not how it went!

Shortly afterwards I had the call from Dominik Blum asking for a piece for his men's choir. He also wanted to perform a work by Eliot Carter on the same program using flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion and so this determined the instruments of the ensemble for my piece. At Dominik's suggestion, there was also a part for solo soprano, for Fiona.

All this meant that the piece had to be completely different from the work for children and piano, only the texts remained.

Dominik worked hard to make the work succeed, but it was either too difficult or, more probably, too strange for the members of the choir. Everyone else was excellent; instrumentalists and soloist. There were two performances, in Frauenfeld and in Winterthur—the latter was recorded by the Swiss radio.

During the preparation for the concerts, Dominik noticed that there was time for another shorter work and so he ask the flautist to play my Flötenspieler und Fledermäuse. This was superbly done by Dominique Hunziger (who performed it again later several times) and marks the beginning of our friendship with him and his wife Anne.