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Bicât REQUIEM

The In Paradisum from Nick Bicât's Requiem was on BBC Radio 3's PRIVATE PASSIONS programme on Sunday 18th April, chosen by the guest Margaret Heffernan. You can listen to the programme HERE, and purchase the CD from Amazon HERE.

Nick Bicât writes:

In 1979 I was commissioned me to write some music for a documentary television series she was producing about the French Revolution for the BBC. Part of this brief entailed setting some texts from the Requiem Mass. I found this task fascinating, but was reminded of how difficult it is to experience the intense excitement and anticipation the apostles and other early Christians must have felt when they set off in their boats across the Mediterranean, risking their lives to tell people about an extraordinary man and his dangerous, challenging ideas. It seems that the spiritual sense so universally felt is too often buried by the countless strata of explanation, rules, words and dogma which accumulate around all religions.

Some parts of the Requiem were performed at funerals in subsequent years, and many people asked me how they could hear the whole piece; one of these was Andrew Parrott, who urged me to develop the settings into a full Requiem. Through experience  I realised that Requiems should be written for the living, to explain or metabolise the death of someone loved, and not simply sound as if they were taken from an opera or an oratorio; rather than expressing a generalised lament, or anguish, or fear of damnation, they should be part of the search for understanding, the power of memory and love, to heal and to perpetuate the human spirit.

There is a difference between the personal and the private, and it becomes a dichotomy when ritual loses its connection with human experience; when the ritual stops working, it can seem that personal feelings have no place in the structure and must remain private.

One of the things I’m trying to do with the Requiem is to bridge this gap.

In researching early Christian memorial texts (particularly those from the catacombs in Rome, Greece, Alexandria and all around the Mediterranean) I was struck by the tone of the epitaphs – many written for people of no civic status or importance – the positive imagery, the loving tone of the inscriptions, and particularly by the absence of warnings about hell fire and torment, even the absence of the crucifix. In studying the evolution of the Requiem Mass for the Dead, it became clear that more and more fear and damnation entered the text as the centuries passed (notably the 28 verses of the Dies Irae (a 13th Century addition). Those epitaphs have a wonderfully matter-of-fact character; they are tender and optimistic, more about renewal than sin, and celebrate people from all walks of life. They are the simple and heartfelt words which people use to make their own ritual, and remind us of what underlies the monumental structure of the text we take for granted, of the human lives it is meant to serve.

SWALLOW

This 3-part drama I wrote the music for in 2001 is now showing again on Channel 4.

Written by Tony Marchant and directed by Adrian Shergold, it stars Christine Tremarco and Steven Mackintosh, and is a hard-hitting, emotional story about dependency on anti-depressants, the marketing force of drug companies, and the determined spirit of a single mother.

The music is beautifully played by Christopher Warren-Green and the London Chamber Orchestra.

PERPETUA – London Performance

The latest performance of Nick Bicât's dramatic cantata PERPETUA is on Wednesday 29th January 2020, at the magnificent Wren church of St Stephen Walbrook, in the City of London. Set in Carthage in 236 AD, this is the exciting story of Vibia Perpetua, who scandalised her family and her society by becoming a Christian; despite enormous pressure she wouldn't recant, and was condemned to death by the wild beasts in the Arena. She kept a diary up to the day before she died, and this musical retelling of her story is sung by soloists and choirs, and uses her own words. Watch an interview with Nick about PERPETUA HERE. Tickets can be purchased HERE.

A Christmas Carol – Limited Edition

In 2017 Quartet Records produced a special Christmas edition CD of my original soundtrack for this film - a perennial favourite in the USA and around the world. It included an excellent 16-page booklet with full and interesting sleeve notes about the production and the music. The edition was limited to 500 copies, and are now sold out -  but occasionally one crops up on eBay International for the really dedicated collector!

Greenham Common 100 Years

Greenham: 100 Years of War & Peace

Around 5000 turned up to watch the final curtain call for Greenham: 100 Years of War and Peace. Greenham:WP17 was a large scale outdoor event celebrating 20 years of the Greenham Trust. On the evenings of the 8th and 9th September 2017 the story of Greenham Common came alive through an amazing spectacle of performance, songs, light projections and live art.
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