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Honoring the death of ‘pets’ inspired Animal Requiem by Rachel Fuller

RACHEL FULLER: 'In the middle of sort of the grief of losing our dogs I thought I should do this for animals. I should do it as a memorial to honor them because they play such a huge role in our lives.'

PETER LARSEN: ‘Composer Rachel Fuller didn’t get her first dog until she was 26 — she’d had cats as a kid — but one led to another and another and over three or four years she and her husband Pete Townshend — yes, that Pete Townshend, guitarist-singer in the legendary rock band the Who — found themselves with a six-pack of pooches. “It was a fabulous pack, for well over a decade we just lived with this pack of dogs,” says Fuller, who in addition to orchestral pieces and scores for film, television and theater, occasionally performs as a singer-songwriter… Fuller, 46, whose new album, “Animal Requiem,” was released earlier this month, was in Los Angeles in advance of its United States’ debut at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Saturday, Oct. 26…

She says that after the loss of her beloved Spud, the rest of four-legged family members soon followed: Flash, the border collie that Townshend got around the same time Fuller brought home Spud; Harry, another golden retriever; Barney, a Bichon Frise; Wistle, the Yorkshire terrier that slept by Fuller’s head at night; and Cracker, a poodle whom Fuller describes as both Machiavellian and pure of heart. It was, she says, a period of devastating pain, but one in which her long-held dream of writing a classical requiem found new purpose and meaning…

“Animal Requiem,” in addition to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chamber Choir of London, also includes several unexpected elements, including a recording of birdsong from the cave where St. Francis of Assisi lived out his life, which Fuller recorded on her iPhone. “I am not immune to doing what I call real pretentious artist (stuff),” Fuller says, laughing as she embarks this story. “And I thought, ‘Right, so St. Francis of Assisi was the patron saint of animals, you hear lots of stories about how he used to go preach to animals in the woods, and there’s a famous scene called Conference of the Birds where he started to preach to all these birds and they fell silent…

“I didn’t want to do a sort of bog-standard (i.e. basic) requiem, I wanted it to have a theme,” Fuller says. “Benjamin Britten had written a war requiem, which actually is a requiem for peace. A British composer called Howard Goodall had done a requiem to light called ‘Eternal Light.’ “I guess in the middle of sort of the grief of losing our dogs I thought I should do this for animals,” she says. “I should do it as a memorial to honor them because they play such a huge role in our lives, but when we experience loss (of a pet) we don’t really have any ritual or comfort. And I thought, if I can write music that moves people, hopefully, it would a source of uplift and comfort, and that was it’.  SOURCE…

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