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Poway church music director says ‘Good Night’ to his father with choral requiem

todayOctober 29, 2023 2

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When his father died in August 2022, John-Luke Addison — the director of music at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway — decided not to dash off a piece of music in time for the memorial service.

Instead, the 33-year-old Addison wanted to compose something more substantial that would reflect both his love for his father, George, and his grief at his passing. Over much of the next year, he channeled that desire into a composition that will have its premiere at the church next weekend.

“Good Night: A Requiem” is written for piano, string ensemble, and choir, with Addison playing the piano. The text is comprised of excerpts from a variety of literary sources — Mark Twain, the Gospel of St. Matthew, the poet Clare Harner (“Do not stand/By my grave, and weep, I am not there/I do not sleep …”).

The selections reflect the great love of poetry that George Addison, who died at age 77, had throughout his life, his son said.

“My Dad was my hero,” Addison said.

The sheet music for “Good Night: A Requiem,” composed by John-Luke Addison, the music director at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway. The work, written to honor Addison’s late father, George, will premiere on Nov. 4 at the church.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

George Addison held a number of jobs before entering the ministry a little later in life in 1981. In the 1960s and 1970s he worked on a vehicle assembly line, eventually becoming a union leader and leading a strike.

George was a social activist in many causes, and a journalist for a time. He served many roles in ministry, including being a prison chaplain and another time a university chaplain. George also introduced John-Luke to music when he showed the 7-year-old how to play the theme from “Star Wars” on the piano. That lesson opened the world of music to Addison, a pianist and composer who leads the church’s well-regarded musical program.

Addison said that his composition evokes death as a kind of peace. The music is melodious, a modern take on the established requiem form, and one that he said aims to create an atmosphere of peace and reflection.

While the composition is a deeply personal work — it’s dedicated to “Dad, who inspired me to follow my dreams. Good night, sweet prince” — Addison said other requiems like “Eternal Light” by British composer Howard Goodall and “Requiem for the Living” by American composer Dan Forrest had an influence on the work.

John-Luke Addison is the music director of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church.

John-Luke Addison is the music director of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church. He has written a requiem choral mass in memory of his father, George Addison, who died in 2022.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The title of the piece has a dual meaning too, representing his father’s love of literature and their own personal relationship. The phrase comes from the famous last scene of “Hamlet” when Horatio eulogizes the dying Danish prince.

Those were also the words Addison’s father spoke to him when he went to bed as a boy growing up in southern Ontario.

Addison wrote the requiem over an eight-month period, giving him time to reflect on the man his father was and capture that in music. It was also a kind of balm.

“This was my grieving process,” he said.

John-Luke Addison plays the piano  Stat . Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Poway.

John-Luke Addison, the music director of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, plays the piano in the Poway church. He has written a requiem choral mass in memory of his father, George Addison, who died in 2022.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

He said he hopes that others will also be comforted.

“I think everyone, from their own life experiences and losses, and on their own life journey, is going to be able to connect,” he said.

The performances will be preceded by a litany for the dead, a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer traditionally used on All Souls’ Day and during times of mourning, for remembrance of all those who have died over the past year.

The performances next weekend will feature the St. Bartholomew’s Community Choir, the Poway Symphonette, soprano Anne-Marie Dicce Valenzuela and guest conductor Juan Carlos Acosta.

‘Good Night: A Requiem’

When; 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4; 4 p.m. Nov. 5

Where: St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 16275 Pomerado Road, Poway

Tickets: $25, general; $10, students

Online: stbartsmusic.org

Moran is a freelance writer and a parishioner at St. Bartholomew’s.

 John-Luke Addison is the music director of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Poway.

John-Luke Addison is the music director of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway. He has written a requiem choral mass in memory of his father, George Addison, who died in 2022.

(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)



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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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