Watch the World Premiere of Stacy Garrop’s Barlow Prize-Winning Work, Rites for the Afterlife

On October 19th, we gave our last of 11 world premieres in 2018, performing Stacy Garrop’s Rites for the Afterlife on the Jewel Box Concert Series at Northeastern Illinois University. From the haunting effects that transported the audience into the Egyptian afterlife, to the beautiful, serene journey to the “Field of Reeds” at the end of the piece, we can’t wait to keep sharing this new masterwork for reed quintet with audiences around the country!

Akropolis with composer Stacy Garrop after the world premiere

About Rites for the Afterlife

The piece follows the soul into and through the afterlife, including the spells and enchantments contained in The Book of the Dead, the funery barque which tows the soul through the Netherworld, its arrival in the Hall of Judgement to be weighed against a feather from Maat–the goddess of truth–and its final resting place at the field of reeds where it is united with family members, harvesting plentiful crops along the Nile under a brilliant blue sky forever.

Egyptians believed that upon death, their souls would undertake a harrowing journey through the Netherworld. If they survived the horrific creatures and arduous trials that awaited them, then their souls would be reunified with their bodies and live forever in a perfect version of the life they had lived in Egypt. To achieve this, Egyptians devised around 200 magical spells and incantations to aid souls on the path to the Afterlife. These spells are collectively called The Book of the Dead. Not only did these spells protect and guide the soul on this dangerous path, but they also served as a safeguard against any unbecoming behavior an Egyptian did while alive. Rites for the Afterlife follows the journey of these souls.

Image of Book of the Dead, written on papyrus

About Composer Stacy Garrop

Dr. Garrop is a graduate of Indiana University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan. Currently Music Alive’s composer-in-residence with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and previous faculty member at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Dr. Garrop has received commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, Utah Arts Festival, the Detroit Symphony, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and many others. She has also attended residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Center for the Arts, McDowell Colony, Millay Colony, Oxford Summer Institute, Round Top Festival, Ucross Foundation, Wellesley Composers Conference and Yaddo. In addition her music has been performed by the Albany Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Gaudete Brass Quintet, San Francisco Choral Society, Volti, and many others.

After Akropolis helped adjudicate 159 submissions from 18 countries as a panelist for the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, Stacy Garrop of Chicago, Illinois was awarded the $12,000 Barlow Prize to compose a major new work for the reed quintet. The reed quintet’s growing popularity over Akropolis’ first decade of growth is punctuated by the Barlow Endowment choosing the reed quintet for the first time to receive its flagship commission.

Rites for the Afterlife was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment on behalf of the Akropolis Reed Quintet, Calefax Reed Quintet, and the Brigham Young University Reed Quintet.

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