Requiem for Peace reviewed by Dr. Gerald Neufeld

used with permission

I have received more emails than after any other concert in 30 years of the GCC's performances in Guelph expressing how much the listener was impressed by the music and the concept of this work.

The Guelph Chamber Choir’s vision of “inspired choral music to stir the human spirit” was powerfully evident in its performance of Requiem for Peace.  There are few contemporary works of the magnitude of Requiem for Peace that can sustain the audience’s attention for an hour and move them to silence after the last chord has found its own silence.  The breadth of Nickel’s concept, incorporating texts from diverse communities that have experienced the ravages of war, was matched by the depth of expression in each movement.  This is "new music" that is accessible, while making as strong a statement about the futility of war and the need for peace as I have heard in many years.  I thought the orchestration was brilliant, capturing the character and essence of each poem so well. The entire work moved listeners to a deeper level of an understanding of conflict, reconciliation and a peaceful future.  

An accessible multi-movement work such as Requiem for Peace is a very welcome addition to the choral canon; especially one that remembers the futility of war and calls for peace and redemptive action.  While blending both contemporary and familiar compositional elements, it captures the cultural essence of each poem, yet preserves a style unique to Larry Nickel. 

Performing this work was a was a growth experience for the Guelph Chamber Choir as it made its impact felt on us as performers.  The attentiveness of the audience spoke highly of the quality of the composition and the depth of emotion that the music and poetry evoked in us all.  Thank you, Larry, for adding another gem to the canon of great Canadian works.

Comments from choir members…

“Requiem for Peace was such a pleasure and an honour to sing.  The music was so engaging and the plea for peace so compelling—what a great work.”

“…adding Japanese (not too difficult) and Chinese (very difficult) to the menu made it even more challenging but I really grew to love the Requiem for Peace.”

Audience response after hearing Requiem for Peace…

“There are a lot of superlatives that could be sent your way by those who are accomplished musicians.   I can only marvel at the complexity of Larry Nickel's Requiem for Peace.”

“I have always been saddened by the focus on military loss of life (terrible and senseless though that may be) to the neglect of the suffering of innocent civilian populations. I know what it is to be bombed and see the destruction of well known places, and the damage to civilian lives. I have always believed that war is folly. Its impact is summed up by Michael Berg, whose 26-year old son was beheaded in Iraq, when, in response to a reporter's question said, ‘The only fruit of war is death and grief and sorrow. There is no other fruit.’”

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Gerald Neufeld’s bio