Missa Solis - Requiem for Eli
male treble solo
(duration ~ 44:00)
Now available from Rimshot Music
Missa Solis - Requiem for Eli has its origins in an ancient Italian ode to the Sun “O Sol, Almo Immortale” -
This text comes to us courtesy of a madrigal written by the Italian renaissance composer Giovan Leonardo Primavera in about 1560.
In the year 2000 it was suggested to me by filmmaker John Weiley that I incorporate this ancient ode to the sun into my score for his Imax film “Solarmax”.
Containing images of the sun’s furious surface & a narrative that probed mankind’s relationship with the sun from the perspective of scientific, historical & religious viewpoints, I embarked on a search for all manner of diverse musical material in order to support the massive imagery, recent scientific research & weighty metaphors contained within the film.
I began by setting Primavera’s text in the style of a slow moving, four part chorale maintaining the original Italian, and it became a pivotal recurring motif in the score. Our “Hymn to the Sun”.
I remember asking the director what sort of music he had in mind for the final sequence of the film, a dramatic fly through space toward the inferno of the sun’s surface, where we crash through the plasma and emerge into the starfield on the other side. John’s response was as succinct as it was terrifying – “We are looking at the eye of God”.
I was attracted to this idea of a tangible God.
A Sun God that has been worshipped by civilisations throughout history and recognised as the source of all life, underpinning entire belief systems & patterns of worship on the omnipotent power of our nearest star.
Some years later, my wife Janice suggested to Colin Cornish (then Director of Artistic Planning, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra) that the Solarmax score would have the potential to be developed into a concert suite.
The term Mass or Missa as used in this context, is devoid of any liturgical connotations or traditional latin text. Though far from being a parody of a traditional Mass, my intentions were to celebrate the miracle and power of a star we rarely think about, yet is the essential engine of all life on earth. Our sun.
Within weeks of finishing the first draft of a 25 minute concert suite called Missa Solis, my life was completely shattered by the death of my young son Eli.
Many things, including music completely lost their relevance & meaning. I was cast into an abyss of grief & yearning. All plans went on hold, future work prospects were postponed or cancelled and Missa Solis lay idly on the desk for a year.
When I finally worked up the will and the courage to resume my seat in the studio, in the forefront of my mind was the desire to express my grief at the loss of my son through music.
As the pages of Missa Solis stared back at me from the desk, I saw within them the potential to further expand upon this material in a way that might somehow reflect the enormity of my loss.
From Phaoroah Akhenaten’s severe “Hymn to the Aten,” to the joyous account of Gallieo Gallilie’s discovery of the telescope “The Starry Messenger”, the common thread all the while being mankind’s relationship with the sun and Primavera’s ancient ode “O Sol, Almo Immortale’ remaining a recurring theme.
Thus over a long and protracted evolution, and forged by overwhelming tragedy, Missa Solis – Requiem for Eli has become a profound expression not only of grief, but also of joy and celebration of the life of my beloved son Eli who’s life was cruelly taken some weeks before his 22nd birthday.
The work is in 8 movements.
In keeping with its film score origins, the music of the Prologue is a literal interpretation of this opening narrative.
2. At the Edge uses fragments of the original Solarmax narration as a departure point from which to develop and explore some of the scientific concepts and ideas enshrined within the film, in particular the sound of the sun singing, a recent discovery by the international solar terrestrial program.
3. Song of Transience is an excerpt from the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche.
I am indebted to Sogyal Rinpoche for his kind permission to use these excerpts from his famous book.
4. Aurora is a short instrumental interlude inspired by the spectacular lights at the earths poles caused by the bombardment of the earth’s magnetosphere by the sun’s electrons.
5. Nasce la gioia mia
6. Hymn to the Aten.
7. Sidereus Nuncius
The text is a succinct and liberal translation of the original work and I am indebted to writer Michael Cathcart for his assistance.
8. O Sol Almo Immortale
from The Australian
by Ian Cuthbert