New Requiem for First World War dead by Leeds Minster singers

Leeds choir St Peter’s Singers is preparing to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War with the world premiere of a new work created in Leeds by two of its own members.

Penthos – a new Requiem - has been composed by Matthew Oglesby, left, setting a visionary text by Hannah Stone, right, and you can hear its first performance at St. Michael’s Church, Headingley, on Saturday 27 October at 6.00pm.

Penthos is a significant contribution by St Peter’s Singers to the City’s Armistice commemorations, providing a creative space where we can come together and reflect. Expressed in hauntingly beautiful poetry and music, the piece is a meditation on that ancient spirit of mourning articulated in the Greek word penthos. It allows us to remember all those who died, and to reflect on the appalling wars that continue to disfigure our world 100 years after ‘the war to end all wars’ ended.

Scored for choir, orchestra and soloists, Matthew Oglesby’s music fuses ancient sounds of Russian bells and Eastern Orthodox chanting with the music of English, French and German composers from the time of the Great War. Moments of stunning choral simplicity contrast with the carefully orchestrated sounds of a sizeable orchestra and the highly personalized utterances of contralto and baritone soloists.

Originating in the Middle East, the idea of penthos is simple: being sorry when you do wrong, either as an individual or as a community, is the first step to putting things right with those you have hurt and leads to the joy of being restored to reconciliation and happier relations.

Hannah Stone is an award-winning poet who, in her professional life, is also an academic expert on penthos. Her text draws on this knowledge and, following the example of the early Eastern Christian monks who wrote about it, expresses it in poetry that is rich in imagery, vivid in its portrayal of key characters and skilful in its use of different forms.

Director of Music Dr Simon Lindley said, ‘The compelling musical sonorities and word-rich verbal texts have enthused all who have heard them and promise a very special experience in our Headingley concert – a programme also including deeply felt works by Beethoven and the legendary Dresden composer Rudolf Mauersberger.’

You can find out more on and reserve your place on the Penthos website .

Scroll to Top