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Memento Mori : five operatic scenes for male and female voice with piano trio

by John Honey and Don Kay (2018)

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Work Overview

In July 2018 Don Kay's wife Frances died, after years of fighting against decline caused by the degenerative condition Multi Systems Atrophy. Having collaborated with Don on seven major works over seven years I know what a serious, tough-minded and disciplined artist he is, but I hesitated to suggest the loss of a life partner as a theme for a new work. However the idea was insistent and I found myself writing the libretto for Memento Mori without telling Don. I watched his grieving process and recovery until I felt sure it was appropriate and timely to deliver the buff A4 envelope and leave it for him to read my words in private. When he called to tell me his reaction he had already started to compose, and he continued every day until the work was finished, as if, as he said at the time, compelled by some external force - a force perhaps called Frances. Memento Mori was occasioned by Don and Frances, but is not specifically about them. It attempts to isolate, dramatise and intensify universal elements of death and bereavement using the powerful combination of words and music. I believe Don's courage, objectivity, discipline, love and dedication have produced a work that illuminates the mystery and profundity of the end of life experience." - John Honey, December 2018.

Work Details

Year: 2018

Instrumentation: Male voice, female voice, piano, violin, cello.

Duration: 35 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: 1. The End -- 2. The Funeral -- 3. Refreshments -- 4. Home Alone -- 5. Phoenix Rise?

Dedication note: To the memory of Frances

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