According to the Daily Telegraph, the most popular funeral song is My Way, sung by Frank Sinatra. You can’t deny that it’s a pretty good send-off for anyone who has recently shuffled off this mortal coil, yet if one seeks for a more profound musical expression of death and bereavement, all the works available tend to be religious.
With this in mind, a leading professor of clinical immunology and poet, Anthony Pinching, and classical composer Russell Pascoe have joined forces to create A Secular Requiem, the first large scale work that has been created for a secular ceremony of death.
With each of the work’s five movements exploring a different stage of grief, the piece seeks to take the place of the traditional Christian requiem mass and provide an equal level of solemnity, meditation and comfort for the bereaved. Rather than use a religious text, words from the likes of John Donne, Rabindranath Tagore and Robert Louis Stevenson – as well as Pinching himself – have been set to the music.
A Secular Requiem receives its London premiere this Saturday (2 November) at Cadogan Hall, performed by the acclaimed Three Spires Singers and preceded by Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs. Tickets (£22) are still available and, if the glowing reviews are accurate, you’ll want to get there if it’s the last thing you do.