When his mother Rosalie Savarino Edwards passed away in 2006, composer Stephen Edwards composed a Requiem mass in her honor. The premiere recording of Edwards’s Requiem for My Mother is Classical IPR’s New Release of the Week.
Rosalie Edwards was a teacher, composer, flutist, and choral director, and she encouraged all of her children to study music. Under her tutelage and encouragement, Stephen Edwards became a pianist and film composer. Both mother and son attended camp at Interlochen: Stephen in the 1970s and Rosalie in the 1950s.
In Catholic liturgy, a Requiem is a mass for the dead. The opening text is “Requiem aeternam, dona eis, Domine,” or “grant them eternal rest, O Lord.” By composing a Requiem, Edwards joins centuries of other composers, including Mozart, Verdi, Faure, and Rutter.
Edwards’s setting requires massive performing forces, including both adult and children’s choruses, plus four vocal soloists and large orchestra. Edwards has said that his Requiem is “the custom music that I wrote to transport [my mother’s] soul to the next place." Requiem for My Mother was first performed in Vatican City in 2008.
Film composer John Williams has called Edwards’s Requiem “heartfelt and honest” and “a touching tribute to a mother from a loving son.” Edwards, his mother, and the piece were also the subject of an award-winning documentary film that aired earlier this year on many public television stations. The trailer for the documentary, also called “Requiem for My Mother,” can be viewed here.