Reactions to the premiere:
Dies Irae is a new large-scale work for soloists, choir and orchestra by award-winning composer Ian Assersohn. It was commissioned jointly by Leatherhead Choral Society and Epsom Male Voice choir to form part of the centenary commemorations of the Battle of The Somme. The Latin title, taken from the Requiem Mass, can be translated as "Day Of Anger" - in other words, "Judgement Day".
In fifteen movements Dies Irae presents a contemporary response to the battle by imagining it through the eyes of the combatants, and those they left behind at home. The music is at once uplifting, emotional and approachable.
The text draws upon poetry by Alan Seeger, Edward Thomas, John Milton, Martin Luther, Rudyard Kipling, Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon, William Noel Hodgson and William Shakespeare as well as folk-song, children's rhymes, scripture and some original text. Click on this link to download the complete text of the work in PDF format.Listen to an extract from the first performance.
"Dies Irae is the most substantial work I have written to date, in terms of its structure and scale and also its musical and emotional range. The choice of texts is very important and I spent a very long time searching and sifting. My final choices are, I think, powerful and meaningful, if in some cases unexpected.
Throughout the compositional process I have kept the practicalities of performance very much in mind. I hope that it is as rewarding to rehearse, perform and listen to as it was to write."
The Dies Irae premiere is part of the Centenary Partnership Programme led by the Imperial War Museum.