Music lovers learn from ‘Requiem’

On Dec. 14, the Marquette Symphony Orchestra, Lastenkuoro Choir, Renata Kapilevich (soprano soloist), Senia Manson (child soloist), and the Marquette Senior High School Redmen Chorale were a part of the world premiere of Thomas LaVoy’s “A Child’s Requiem.” The piece of music was commissioned by the MSO. I am a member of the MSHS Redmen Chorale and I was very fortunate to be able to learn and perform Tom’s wonderful piece of music.

Tom LaVoy is a 2008 graduate of Marquette Senior High School. He was heavily involved in the music department when he was a student at MSHS. Tom went to Westminster Choir College and he graduated in the spring of 2013. He came back to Marquette and Redmen Chorale to teach “A Child’s Requiem” to us.

Tom got the inspiration to compose “A Child’s Requiem” from the Dec. 24, 1913, Italian Hall Disaster in Calumet. In the Italian Hall disaster, miners and their families were all gathered at the Italian Hall for a Christmas Eve party, which was during a miners’ strike. During the party, a group of men or one man shouted, “Fire!” and the attendees of the party attempted to evacuate the Italian Hall very quickly, creating a pandemonium, resulting in the death of 73 people, the majority of whom were children. The people or person who shouted “Fire!” was never caught.

The 100-year anniversary of the Italian Hall Disaster is Tuesday. Tom’s piece doesn’t give a historical account of the tragedy, but instead talks about what happens after the loss of a child. There are seven movements, which are titled, “On the Stair,” “From a Dark Place,” “In the Center,” “aiti,” “O Child of Mine,” “Lux Aeterna” and “Sisu.” Esther Margaret Ayers (Esther LaVoy Barrington), Tom’s mom, wrote the libretto for all seven movements.

The concert was amazing. I had so many different emotions going through me that day. I was excited for the community of Marquette to hear “A Child’s Requiem,” but I also didn’t want the wonderful experience of rehearsing and performing to end. I remembered the group hug in MSHS Choir/Orchestra room after one of the rehearsals two weeks ago and how Tom made fun of my Redmen Choral class for pronouncing some words incorrectly because we were opening our mouths as if we were smiling instead of making our mouths tall as singers do.

When I went to Kaufman Auditorium on the evening of the concert, I became very excited because Mrs. Brodersen told us that Tom wanted to give us a pep talk before we performed “A Child’s Requiem.” I couldn’t wait to hear what he would say. Another special moment was Mrs. Brodersen’s pep talk. Both of them gave us a lot of encouragement and they made us at ease before our performance.

Being a part of the world premiere of “A Child’s Requiem” was an unforgettable experience. I loved every second when we were learning it and performing it. I was taught so much in just one semester of Redmen Chorale. I’m so glad I’m a part of Redmen Chorale and I cannot wait to see what the rest of the year will bring.

Editor’s note: GlenEllen Lehmberg, 16, is a junior at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in dance and youth theatre in her spare time. Her parents are Paul and Z.Z. Lehmberg of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at