The Freethinkers are the local group for humanists, secularists and atheists, and on the evening of November 11th 2018 held the island’s first secular remembrance ceremony. As well as being non-religious, it was also intended to remember not just Allied Forces military dead, but all the dead of all wars (i.e. civilians, emergency workers, refugees, etc. etc.) “without hate and without favour”.
It was well received, so the group now intend to build on it year by year, and one thing needed is to develop dedicated music for the ceremony.
Last year the Braddan Commissioners held a Secular Act of Remembrance on Sunday 11 November at the Memorial Hall in Union Mills.
The aim of the competition is to produce a suite of short (2-3 minute) pieces of music, one of which must be a lament or slow air, playable on acoustic instruments by no more than four musicians of average ability, which will set the mood throughout the ceremony. This will be used each year as the ceremony evolves. Thanks to a generous bequest, the group can offer a total of £2,000 in prizes for the winners.
To determine the winner of the overall contest, the group asks all competitors to submit an original, complete slow air or lament, along with sketches (written or musical) to show how the other pieces (minimum of three, maximum of six) could complement this. The slow air will set the mood before the oration which proceeds the two minutes silence. Based on that, the group would choose one composer to provide the complete suite. There are separate prizes for different elements of the project, so competitors can, if preferred, concentrate solely on the lament.
In future years Isle of Man Freethinkers hope to invite varying groups of musicians to perform (local amateur or professional, school ensembles, etc.), so suggest Grade V Associated Board as a competency standard. The music should be of a simple, accessible style (e.g. classical, folk, traditional) and preferably adaptable to other types of performers - for example, a folk group one year or a woodwind quartet in another. Up to four acoustic instruments can be used, but the piece should be practical for two performers where more are not available.
Anything with a religious title or theme cannot be considered, as it prevents those of another faith or none from playing a full part in the ceremony. Similarly, while sung music could be considered, anything with words also creates the difficulty of deciding if the text is suitable, so is unlikely to succeed.
Last year the Isle of Man Freethinkers said that the secular ceremony was to remember all casualties of war, on both sides, while appreciating the sacrifice of defending freedoms against fascism.
The prizes will be £750 for best lament (with a separate £250 prize for best entry by someone aged 21 or younger) and an additional £1,000 prize for the composer of the complete suite. The winner(s) would be expected to arrange for the performance of their winning piece(s) at the next secular remembrance ceremony on the evening of November 11th (venue yet to be confirmed), and all prize moneys would be paid following this.
The group's intent is to produce music which can be easily and freely used by as many people as possible for such ceremonies. The Freethinkers therefore expect to use winning entries royalty free for performance in the ceremony in future years, but, subject to negotiation, copyright could remain with the composers for other purposes (recordings etc.) if desired.
The competition is open to anyone currently resident on the Isle of Man, including those normally resident but currently studying off-island. Entries for the initial lament section should be received by 30th June, and a winner will be announced soon after, thus allowing the winner of the suite section ample time to complete their work by 31st October.
Lament entrants should first submit a recorded performance in a popular format (e.g. musical CD) so that it can be easily shared and understood by non-musicians on the Freethinker Committee. This need not be of a professional quality, and can be followed later by a written score.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further details and the address to which entries can be sent.
For more information visit www.iomfreethinkers.org