ENS.2022.4 | 21′
I. Libera me
II. Dies irae
III. In paradisum
On July 13, 2022 my beloved borzoi Alfie passed away from cancer. He was not yet five years old. Alfie was my best friend and companion during the pandemic, and his sudden decline and death from a particularly aggressive and incurable osteosarcoma affected me greatly.
Though I wished to commemorate him, I did not want to write a banal Requiem simply remembering and celebrating my deceased dog, nor felt myself capable of it. Neither could it be any kind of kaddish celebrating the full, healthy life he was not fated to live. It is, instead, a howl of pain, anger, and rage. If it occasionally achieves moments of repose or transfiguration, these reflect only abstract musical logic: nearly a year later I am not yet reconciled to the fact that Alfie is gone.
This is, then, an iconoclastic Requiem absent any spiritual freight save the communal experience of mourning. For this reason the work is purely instrumental, though I felt it appropriate that each of these three movements should gesture toward the traditional mass for the dead. I admit choosing the movement titles less for Alfie than for myself. There is a Libera me—deliver me. A Dies irae—day of wrath. And In paradisum—imagining a paradise in which I do not believe, though we all have our hopes, however attenuated, that one day we shall be reunited with those we have loved, and lost forever.