Conductor Rachel Beausoleil does a final rehearsal with the choir ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Conductor Rachel Beausoleil does a final rehearsal with the choir ©Brett Delmage, 2014
Requiem for 14 Roses
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Knox Presbyterian Church, Ottawa

It began with 14 ringing notes on a gong, the sound of each note rising and falling throughout Knox Presbyterian Church.

Then long lines of flickering candlelights slowly moved down the church's nave. They were held by 40 female and male choristers, there to sing the premiere of Elise Letourneau's Requiem for 14 Roses, and to remember the women killed in the École Polytechnique Massacre, exactly 25 years before.

As the music continued, first the men and then the women singers moved to the front of the church, singing the emotion-filled and deeply solemn music.

Letourneau combined choral passages, eloquent soloists (including jazz vocalist Sienna Dahlen and local cantor Jeremy Burko), and instrumental sections in her requiem. While remaining within the standard requiem form, she interposed 14 short instrumental passages throughout, featuring two trombones and two flugelhorns, to commemorate each of the women murdered, the melodies emphasizing the promise and loss of lives cut short.


The music combined both classical and jazz influences, but was primarily a work of sorrow and remembrance. At the end of the 90-minute show, the choristers and musicians filed out again and stood standing in the aisles.

The audience – which almost completely filled the church and its upstairs balcony and had been intently listening and nearly silent throughout – leaped to its feet in an immediate and extended ovation. They repeated the ovation when Letourneau and the other singers and musicians returned to the front of the church.

    – Alayne McGregor

See also: Requiem for Fourteen Roses: hope and remembrance after 25 years

Photos of the Requiem for Fourteen Roses dress rehearsal at Knox Presbyterian Church on 2014 December 6
All photos ©2014 Brett Delmage