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This Will Be Our Reply to Violence

Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

I don’t know about you, but the news coverage of recent local, state, national, and international events have been cripplingly bleak. (Even as I write this, a coup is hopefully dissipating; we will soon find out how this ends.)

Photo: Max Becherer/AP Photo

When people are slain, I sometimes believe composing is useless.

I think, “How can I end racism?” or “Why can’t I educate a gazillion people at a time and teach them to trust and love one another? That fear and violence is not the answer?” or “These issues are so complicated…I don’t even know where to begin” or “Why am I sitting on my behind and doing nothing—I should be an activist. That way something can be done.”

Instead, I pathetically scour the Internet and read more heinous news stories and do nothing.

Sarah Hawkins/from her Facebook Feed


Maybe I should do something.

Maybe I can do something the best way I know how.

I’ve been thinking about writing a requiem for a few years now. It’s one of those Pieces Composers Write (along with orchestra pieces, string quartets, sonata for an instrument plus piano, you get the idea). Originally I thought I’d deconstruct the requiem, breaking it into singular syllables and stealing their broken sound fragments and reconstructing them into something celestial and eloquent, demolishing the requiem text but transcending their meaning.

No. I’ve changed my mind.

This requiem will be written for those whose lives matter but didn’t. Each will have a movement dedicated to each life lost.

And I truly hope there will be an ending to this piece in my lifetime.

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