Image of Requiem Soloist Andrew Haji, who has black hair, a beard, and is wearing a white polo, staring off to the right with the Scarborough Bluffs and Lake Ontario in the background.
Andrew Haji in Requiem. photo by Taylor Long
It’s hard to pick a favourite part in a work like Requiem—

I think the most powerful thing about the piece is how it spans the full gamut of human emotion within one hour. We go from anger to tears to joy in under an hour, and you can’t help but be in awe of Mozart’s ability to write emotion into the music. Requiem is one of the first projects that I’ve done with an orchestra and chorus since the pandemic began. It is a way for all of us to think of and to deal with the losses we’ve experienced during the past year and a half.

I had my Carnegie Hall debut in the first week of March of 2020, celebrating Beethoven’s 250th birthday.

It’s surreal to think about it now. I left Toronto on March 2, we performed in New York for a packed audience at Carnegie, and then I returned on March 6, on a flight that felt completely normal… no masks. I haven’t been on an airplane since. By the end of March, my whole calendar for 2020 was suddenly wide open—every show had been postponed or cancelled. Yes, it sucks to have your entire livelihood taken out from under you. My wife was eight months pregnant at that time, and it was a tense time professionally.

My son was born on April 2, 2020, just as all the precautions were being ramped up and life was being locked down. I was with my wife for the birth, but I was asked to leave the hospital shortly thereafter. So, I was Facetiming with my son and wife from home for the first three days after the birth. We were so lucky— he was a totally healthy baby. In a way, it was a blessing to have an empty schedule that allowed me to spend time with our baby son in the first months of his life—as everyone isolated in their own little bubbles.

 

Soloists in Requiem. photo by Taylor Long

This project means a lot of things to me.

I hope this production will bring the beauty of Mozart’s music to a wider audience. The Requiem speaks for itself, but by putting it together in a way like this, I think it opens it up to people who wouldn’t necessarily attend an oratorio performance. I also hope the way it’s presented will help those who are still processing a loss and will give people hope that the worst of this pandemic is behind us and that we’ll all get through it together. It’s a way for me to honour my grandma and grandpa, who were like parents to me.

 

Learn more about Andrew here.

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