Requiem for Aleppo is a collaborative production which would not be possible without the generous support and donations of many kind individuals and organisations. We are sincerely grateful to the following institutions and patrons for believing in our production and its ability to raise funds and awareness for Syria.
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE, AUGUST 2017
SADLER’S WELLS PREMIERE, APRIL 2017
– Excerpt taken from the Sadlers’ Wells Programme
Requiem for Aleppo could not have happened without the support of a great number of people. There is a list of those in this programme who have all played their part and to each I say a sincere and heartfelt thank you. A number I would like to especially highlight here. First and foremost Amanda Britton, Artistic Principal of the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. It was she who introduced me to Jason Mabana, (an ex student of the school who had subsequently gone on to dance with Akram Khan and Wayne McGregor) and it was she who gave me the belief that what I was composing would work as a dance piece. Much in tune with the philosophy of that unique and wonderful school, which strives to find and nurture the defining essence of each of its dancers, she steered this project towards its own potential, and as a result of her initial push – when it was no more than a piece of music – it is where it is today. (I am also happy to say that three of the cast are ex-students of the school, and I am indebted to other ex-students and current students – Jacob O’Connell, Connor Scott and Monique Jonas for helping workshop the piece in its early stages).
Next I would like to thank Lady Anya Sainsbury for her belief and unwavering support from the very beginning. As she has done for countless others,
she blew re into my idea and provided the support to ensure it would nd the light of day. As she was a soloist and a ballerina at Sadler’s Wells I am filled with trepidation and pride to be here tonight, with a nished project, premiering on the very stage where she made her name. I am hugely indebted to her, Lord Sainsbury, Philip Lawford and the trustees of The Linbury Trust for their support.
I am also greatly indebted to Mr Wafic Saïd and The Saïd Foundation for his and their very generous support and kindness. The SaÏd Foundation is a tremendous force for good in the eld of education, creating opportunity for the many held back by disadvantage or disability. I am extremely pleased to be able to repay his and the Foundation’s kindness in supporting me by channeling all the money raised tonight into educational projects for the people of Syria, which I know is a cause very close to his heart.
I would like to thank Jason Mabana, for the poetry and prose of his choreography, and for finding inspiration in my music. It is something truly extraordinary to have the music one has created interpreted by someone of such imagination and creativity. He has worked on this project under considerable pressure and has brought to the stage something truly moving and powerful. I am sincerely grateful to him for what he has done.
Regarding the music I would like to thank my musical companions on this journey. First and foremost my friend Rasmus Andersen. I could not have given life to such a piece of music without him. With him I shaped the soundscapes and built the pieces, normally starting with a composition on my guitar as a basis and then bringing in all the different instruments – from hang drum to harp, trumpets to violins. We spent many long hours together in the studio, and he spent many subsequent long hours annotating and scoring all the music. It is to him I owe my very deepest thanks for helping me bring the music of the Requiem into being. It has been a journey of very early mornings and very late nights.
Monica Kościela plays the violin. From the rst time I heard Monica play, I knew right there and then that I wanted her to be intricately involved in my music. Her spirit is interwoven throughout this piece. I have never heard anyone play the violin like her. It is entirely right that with such a spiritual piece as a Requiem, the listener should be guided by her violin, for I think she has a power within which gets closer than anyone I have ever heard to the realm of ‘spirit’ – or whatever it is that we have in us that binds us together, and that makes us both physical and transcendent beings.
Juliana Yazbeck has also been fundamental to this project. It is her voice and sentiment you hear throughout. As with any true musician her art belies her spirit. She brings a depth of feeling and integrity to the Arabic poetry and places its lament and sadness – some of it written well over a thousand years ago, in our hearts today. She makes the link to all that has gone before, and in so doing captures the essence of the Requiem.
To Dan Baune I would also like to say thank you. Dan came to the project late when deadlines were getting frightening, adding arrangement and a critical ear to all that had been done. Having done so much in isolation it was incredibly important to have Dan’s expert ear and sensitivity.
With no less deeply felt gratitude I thank my old friend Ben Faccini, responsible for obtaining and collating all the testimony – a difficult, delicate and emotional undertaking given the recent history of the war, its horror and its deeply traumatic effect on many who have had little time to process what has happened. In Requiem for Aleppo Ben gives voice to the few who speak, themselves, for the millions. It is these voices which I hope people will carry in them for a long time hence. In a sense it is they who earth the abstract nature of the piece in reality. Ben interviewed many people who were reticent to talk, people who did not want to be named, people traumatised by what they had witnessed. Ben’s job was extraordinarily di cult and only someone with his knowledge, compassion and sensitivity could have set the right conditions for people to commit to record their thoughts and memories. Ben has also been an immense source of support for me in a creative process which has been highly pressurised through lack of time.
I would like to say a special thank you here to other key members of the creative team – Alex MacKeith (dramaturge), Shanti Freed (costume and set design), Andrej Gubanov (lighting), Marius Arnold Clarke (stage management and set), Holly Lowe (website and social media) and Grant Edwards and Oliver King of Wild Yak Productions . We came together as strangers, we worked at speed, (a speed set by the brilliant ideas of Yoav Segal who sadly, due to time constraints, could not stay with the piece) we disappeared from each others’ lives for chunks of time, but it all came together in the end. It has been an incredibly uplifting process for me to get to know each person and to feel buoyed by their professionalism, vision and kind words.
Finally, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the dancers and to those who gave testimony. It is they who have bared their thoughts and their souls for the many, it is through them that Requiem for Aleppo finds its true place.
I would also like to thank the following:
Kate Richdale, Sawsan and Ayman Asfari, Guy Baring, Patrick Smulders, Gerry Fox, Isa and Mercedes Stouker, Ned Cecil, Susan and Patrick Mocatta, Peter and Leslie Baily and Jim Mellon for their overwhelming generosity and support.
Richard Cooper – for involving me in the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, a unique institution which has given me incredible joy and from which so much talent is produced. Without my involvement in the school this piece would have stayed simply as a piece of music.
Louisa Guinness, Katharine Butler, Peter Baily, John Martin, Max Baring, Justin Thomson for their determination, friendship and help. It has been incredible to have such support and collective drive.
Holly Lowe for heroically bringing the whole social media and web side of things into action – two critical parts of the current and ongoing success of Requiem for Aleppo. Holly’s involvement has been crucial to building the impact of the piece.
Simon Elliott and Charlie Bridge – who have both done a huge amount for the region and are still actively involved in inspiring charitable work there – they helped me greatly with their advice and enthusiasm.
Rajai Khouri of the Peace and Prosperity Trust for his kindness, advice and support in many parts of this project. As its journey continues I hope to involve many musicians that the Trust supports.
Tony Bromovsky and Tim Ambrose for bringing their technical wizardry and enthusiasm to bear in helping scale the piece to many di erent places and platforms on the night. It is through this mechanism that we hope to raise much money.
The Candoco Dance Company for helping me in the early stages and for their kind help during the auditions. Guy Chapman, Arabella Neville-Rolfe and Tim Everett at Target Live for ensuring that the word got out. Guy is much loved in the theatre world and his involvement in the project has certainly helped the Requiem on its way.
Oliver King and Grant Edwards of Yak Productions Ltd for their experience, e ciency and always being there when needed – which was much and often. Two critical friends.
Charlotte Eager and Willie Stirling for providing their enthusiasm, advice and knowledge garnered from their own strong connections with Syria through the arts, through their charitable work and through journalism.
Marius Arnold-Clarke for his unflappable calmness and experience and a very real source of support in the stage production element of the piece.
Katy Arnander for her expertise and help in sorting out for me the sizeable and daunting practicalities of bringing a piece to the Sadler’s Wells stage – knowing she was always there was incredibly reassuring.
Steve Haskett for filming the project all the way through from the very beginning and ensuring we always had good dance footage to raise interest.
My brother, Hal Cazalet, for reviewing all the choral music from a written point of view to ensure it worked properly and cohesively and then for singing so beautifully.
Chris Foster for bringing the Apollo Voice choir into the piece and for making our recording session so memorable.
Anna Farina (Syria Relief), Josephine Goube (Techfugees) and Tom Hayton (Techfugees) for their inspiration, for all they have done and helped me with, for the work they do in the eld, for working together to find a plan around education for displaced people.
Alistair Spalding and the team at Sadler’s Wells for being so accommodating.
Chris Sims and the SLX lighting company for providing state of the art lighting pro bono.
Ahmed Rashid for his encouragement, for agreeing to speak on the night thus bridging the gap between art and reality and for giving his support to this project.
John Simpson, a man who has seen more than most of us humanity at its most desperate – for giving his time to the evening and for placing what we have all witnessed in context.
And lastly, my eternal thanks go to my wife Atalanta, for helping me in this project in every sense, for her help with the design of the album and the content and look of this programme, for her general creative input and for putting up with me singing and playing my guitar very very early every morning as I composed this piece.