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Pilgrim Festival Chorus’s (PFC) spring concert Ferns and Forest features John Corigliano’s work Fern Hill and Dan Forrest’s sublime Requiem for the Living, with 18-piece orchestra and organ accompaniment. These two diverse pieces of music are both celebrations of life and death. Fern Hill, based on the 1945 poem by Dylan Thomas, looks back on the author’s childhood summers spent on a farm in Wales. His musical language evokes some of America’s greatest composers, Copland, Barber, and Bernstein, and captures the joy and pain of looking back on the happy times of childhood.
A Requiem traditionally is a mass for the dead but Dan Forrest chose to change the emphasis to the living. His piece is just as much for the living and their own struggle with pain and sorrow, as it is for remembering the dead. The work is becoming one of the composer’s best-known works to date, in large part due to its emotional range, inspiring listeners with feelings of hope.