The Axios Men’s Ensemble commissioned Benedict Sheehan, a two-time GRAMMY® Award nominee, to compose a Requiem in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. This war, which began in 2014 and escalated with a full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022, has tragically claimed countless lives. The Requiem is a solemn tribute to these victims.
Sheehan’s composition, spanning 12 movements, draws inspiration primarily from the Byzantine burial service, a ritual shared by Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches. Reflecting Ukraine’s diverse linguistic and religious landscape, the Requiem also weaves in elements from Jewish and Roman Catholic traditions. These varied texts serve multiple purposes: they offer solace and strength to the living, especially those grieving; they provide a space for praying for both victims and aggressors; and they ultimately aspire to convey hope, peace, and goodwill.
The premiere of this work promises to be a profound experience. It is an expansive and sublime piece that skillfully blends modern musical styles with traditional Ukrainian motifs and ancient chants. This arrangement not only reflects the harsh realities of war but also echoes humanity’s deep-seated longing for peace, goodness, truth, and beauty.
Featuring over 50 performers, the ensemble includes members of the Axios Men’s Ensemble, Pro Coro Canada—a professional choir based in Edmonton—and select soloists from North America and Ukraine. The performance will be under the direction of Maestro Michael Zaugg.
This Requiem is more than just music. It is a reverent homage to those affected by the war, a reminder of the enduring human spirit, and a heartfelt tribute to Ukraine and her people.