Epitaphs inspire classical composition launched in Bethnal Green

Gravestone epitaphs are the inspiration behind a brand-new piece of haunting classical music which pays tribute to those who rest in the graveyards of London.

The London Requiem, by composer Benjamin Till, will be launched by Bethnal Green-based arts centre Rich Mix on The Space, a new digital arts service later this month.

A series of short films will build up to the performance of the requiem itself in Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, in September.

The London Requiem includes quotes from inscriptions and gravestones in cemeteries across the capital, some of which are highly personal.

Benjamin said: “I was struck by the simplicity of so many gravestones and how they are dominated by clich�s. Then I thought about the difficulty of expressing all the love and emotion those inscriptions are trying to summarise.

“The epitaphs are the ultimate tweet – just a few words to sum up the feeling of an entire life.”

The short films each illustrate one of the requiem’s ten movements. They examine historical, cultural and spiritual issues and also chart the journey Benjamin took across the city whilst composing.

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He took inspiration from the tranquillity of cemeteries to produce a piece which features minimalist rhythms, uplifting solos and powerful choral sections.

Barbara Windsor and Matt Lucas are amongst celebrity soloists on the film soundtracks, which are performed by the Rebel Chorus of opera, musical theatre and gospel singers.

Next month, events in Rich Mix’s ‘crypt’ showcase work on the theme of ‘In Paradisium’ and host an open rehearsal of the composition.

Films are showing weekly from July 25 at Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA. The London Requiem is on September 29, 7pm, In Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington High Street, London, N16 0LH. Tickets are �15 from F 020 76137498 or www.richmix.org.uk