Exaudi explores a spectrum of emotional reactions to the words “exaudi orationem meam ad te omnis caro veniet.” As the music progresses, the cooler, ritualized aspects of the music are transformed into awe and terror, which gradually recede into something more calm. During the conclusion of the piece, which works like an extended coda, the cello solo becomes the main focus of the music. It is echoed and amplified by the sopranos, while the other voices have very simple chorale-like parts.
Exaudi was written for a concert about memory, mourning, and loss. My grandmother died in the year prior to me writing it...Exaudi is loosely based on her emotional and spiritual life as I saw it from a distance, in addition to being written out of love for her.
She lost her husband at a young age, and this relates to the meaning of the first half of the text, "Exaudi orationem meam" which means "hear my prayer (or "hear me"), all flesh will come to you."
At the beginning of the piece, this text is set as ritualized repetition of words from the requiem mass, but during the course of the first section of the piece these words become very specific, meaningful, and painful, describing my grandmother's overwhelming sense of loss following the sudden death of her husband.
My grandmother lived to be almost 90. As she got older, the horror of death in general, and the painful nature of her grief, changed and faded. When she was much older, the idea of death became a more gentle thought to her, comforting, and possibly something to look forward to. She talked about perhaps being reunited with her husband after she died. (This is the second section, the In Paradisum section of the piece. That sense of comfort.) She used to joke about him seeing her and wondering who this old woman could possibly be… (JM)