“Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic”

Apr 15, 2012 | 1 comment

     For months the world has been gearing up for this 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Even Oysterville was “in on” some of the early planning, though nothing came of it directly.  On April 3, 2011 – more than a year ago – our neighbors, Hal and Diane, received an inquiry from a friend of their son’s asking about a suitable retreat here for a composer.
     His name was Philip, he was from Belfast, and he had been requisitioned to compose a requiem for the Titanic.  The Titanic had been built at the Belfast Shipyard.  The requiem was to be the centerpiece of the centenary celebration there of the ship’s sinking, April 15, 1912.
     Philip needed a place that offered peace and quiet, that included a piano, and that was affordable.  His friend thought Oysterville sounded like the perfect setting.  And, that was probably true in some respects, but the absolutely ideal situation did not present itself.
     I don’t know where Philip finally settled so that he could have his composition completed last August as required.  However, I was interested to read this morning in a Newsletter from the UK:  The doleful sound of a ship’s horn introduced “Requiem for the Lost Souls of the Titanic” at St. Anne’s in Belfast on Saturday evening.
     …The composition by Belfast composer Philip Hammond included the Downshire Brass Band and Belfast Philharmonic.
     His work featured male choristers dressed as cabin crew, in dark-blue waistcoats and white shirts and carrying candles.  Women, covered head to foot in black, stepping delicately and slowly, also bore flames to the dead while a group of children, who could have been cabin boys… filed into the atrium of the imposing grey stone-colonnaded cathedral.
     The article’s final quote by Irish poet Michael Longley served to underscore that first request for a place in Oysterville:  We are blessed to have in Philip Hammond a splendid Irish composer who will listen to the sea and bring back to us the voices of the drowned.
     And to think that Philip might have done his listening right here in Oysterville.

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Very interesting post, Sydney! Although there have been larger disasters, the Titanic certainly has captured generations of imaginations.


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