It’s been two years since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and this evening the victims will be remembered in the premiere of A Child’s Requiem at the University of Connecticut. Composed by choral composer and conductor Steven Sametz, a Connecticut native, the work is in the tradition of secular requiems that began to be written in the 20th century to commemorate the tragedies with which that century was littered.
Like traditional requiems, which include the medieval Dies Irae poem about the Last Judgment, A Child’s Requiem has its moments of horror. There’s a gunshot, the tenor soloist singing the part of an agonized father, a children’s choir whispering “Stay in line; hold hands; keep your eyes closed” — the instructions the children were given as they were led out of Sandy Hook.
There’s also a touch of humor, in a line contributed by a child that will be recognized by schoolchildren — and those who were once schoolchildren — everywhere: “Sadness is a kind of math, so very hard we can never figure it out.”
Full disclosure: My wife Tema has done a terrific story on the performance for New England Public Radio (WFCR). If you’re not able to make it over to Storrs tonight — or even if you are — take a listen.