Church presents 'Requiem' for victims of mass shootings

The Fairmount Choir of Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights will present the Ohio premiere of the short work Requiem by Joshua Clausen on Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. The work was written to honor the victims of American mass shootings and their families and friends. The piece was inspired by the work of Sophie Cho, a journalist who took data about mass shootings and turned it into sound form to illustrate gun violence in America. What resulted was a recorded data sonification (series of piano notes) where each piano note represents the day of an American mass shooting, from January 2013 to November 2017. The louder the note, the more people were killed on that particular day.

Hearing this recording, composer Joshua Clausen felt moved to give the data sonification a second life as actual music. “I was just amazed by it," Clausen told The Word podcast. "It’s so direct. Obviously, it’s the sound of real facts, you know, of these terrible stark facts of our world. But it also struck me how human and vulnerable it sounded. The requiem text, of course is a traditional Latin text for the dead. I wanted to bring out with the music a hope for peace. There’s a text in the middle and the Latin is Lux Perpetua Luceat Eis, which means ‘let perpetual light shine upon them,’ to make sure that these stories are told and they’re not forgotten, that these people are seen.”

According to Artistic Director Leah Wyman, one of the most distinguishing features of this outreach is the diversity of its participants. “We have students from Shaker Middle School singing alongside musicians from Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin, and Baldwin Wallace and longtime members of the Fairmount choir," Wyman said. "All generations united in a desire to share this tremendously powerful work, which will hopefully be as transformative to the listener as it has been as we’ve prepared it. This is not a piece about a political issue. We are singing music of heart, humanity and survival.”

Fairmount Presbyterian Church, 2757 Fairmount Blvd., is on the southeast corner where Fairmount Boulevard and Coventry and Scarborough roads meet. For more information, call 216-321-5800 or go to

Donna Key

Donna Key is a colleague of Leah Wyman, the artistic director at Fairmount Presbyterian Church.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 2:32 PM, 11.01.2019