Reactions to the premiere: A extraordinary piece of music...a beautiful, moving and stirring tribute...very moving...a great piece, great writing and really moving...a real triumph... an amazing work...It's a fantastic piece; I can't wait to hear it again...a wonderful and rare achievement...absolutely MAGNIFICENT!!!...I find it both deeply moving and rewarding to sing...I knew I was going to be taking part in a very special event, but could never have anticipated the depth of feeling the composition would evoke. More ...


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.

Composer's statement

"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."

Performance News

The World Premiere of Dies Irae took place in front of a packed hall on November 26th 2016 at Dorking Halls in Surrey. Leatherhead Choral Society, Epsom Male Voice Choir and Farnham Youth Junior Choir with soprano Sarah Leonard and baritone Richard Bannan and the Camerata of London conducted by the composer.

The second performance was on 21st January 2018 at Epsom College conducted by Paul Johnson-Hyde. The soprano soloist was Natalie Johnson-Hyde, and Richard Bannan again sang the baritone solos. The Epsom College Choral Society was joined by Downsend School and Epsom Male Voice Choir.

Read some of the responses to the premiere.

The Dies Irae premiere is part of the Centenary Partnership Programme led by the Imperial War Museum.

For information about Ian's other works visit his composer pages or click here to contact him.