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Hollywood composer and Ann Arbor native turns grief into requiem for his mom

May 12, 2017

Ann Arbor native and Hollywood composer Stephen Edwards owes his successful career of creating scores for movies and TV to his mother, Rosalie Edwards. She was a well-schooled musician trained at the University of Michigan, so Stephen was immersed in music from a very young age.

"In my house, it was basically, from square one, day one, we were musicians," Edwards said. "We had music around. We listened to every imaginable kind of music from my earliest memories. It was pretty automatic for me to become a musician because I had a mother for a musician." 

Rosie, as many called her, taught music at various schools around Ann Arbor and was the conductor of the Women's Glee Club at the University of Michigan. When she passed away after a battle with cancer, Edwards channeled his grief to create a fitting tribute: a requiem. 

The requiem, which had a debut performance in Rome, is the subject of a documentary entitled, "Requiem for My Mother." 

Edwards describes a requiem in the documentary as an "ancient Catholic burial rite.... It's a recipe, a series of prayers, that basically sends a person's soul from the living world to the cosmic eternal world." 

Edwards joined Stateside to talk about his mother, the documentary, and creating such a personal requiem.

"It was so inspired by who she was, and I feel like I knew her so well ... and I thought of her all the time when I was writing it," Edwards said. "So I would certainly hope that it would be something that she would love and it would be playing on her CD player. And there's even a flute soloist in there, Rosie was a flute player, so it's the custom music written for her persona. And it's the custom music that I wrote to transport her soul to the next place." 

Listen to the full interview above to hear some of the requiem, and to hear him talk about the process of composing it and how difficult it was, at times, to create it. 

The documentary titled “Requiem for My Mother” will air this Sunday, on Mother's Day, at 7 p.m. on Detroit Public TV and at 4 p.m. on WKAR in Lansing, WGBU/WGKV in Grand Rapids, and CMU-TV in Flint.

Watch the trailer for "Requiem for My Mother"

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