One of the projects that I'm working on is a Passion based on the story of the Book of Mormon. Several composers of late have written passions based on stories besides the crucifixion of Christ. I decided to use the Book of Mormon as inspiration. A friend and colleague of mine, Jen Rodgers, who is studying passions asked me about my project and gave me permission to include our interchange.
Q: What text(s) are you using for your Passion?
A: Currently the only definite text I am using (I'm still in the very beginning stages) is from the Book of Mormon, Mormon 6:17-20 (you can read it here if you'd like https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/morm/6?lang=eng). I have plans of using other texts from the Book of Mormon, but will also be writing narration and other poetic texts based on the stories in the Book of Mormon, but not necessarily quoting the scriptures.
Q: Who are you writing it for (out in the world, not the performing forces)?
A: At first, I think the easiest to reach audience will be an LDS audience. I would hope that it would have enough appeal outside the LDS community that others will want to hear/perform it.
Q: Why is a Passion relevant for you now?
A: The idea of setting the story of the Book of Mormon in a semi-oratorio style is something that I have been playing with for a long time, but never really had a sense of direction. When we started talking about passions in class, the lightbulb suddenly went on and I knew the direction I wanted to take the story.
Q: How do you think/write about suffering through this work?
A:The genesis of this project was my reaction to the Book of Mormon musical on Broadway which, though it's highly popular and well written, doesn't come close to actually telling the true story of the Book of Mormon. The story follows a group of people (centralized in the prophet/historian Mormon) who obtains and strives to live promises from God, but in the end, turn away from those promises and fall to destruction. The end of the Book of Mormon is one of the most tragic of events as Mormon watches his people, the people who have rejected God's promises, be destroyed out of existence in an epic war. My heart always aches as I read the passage I referenced earlier.
I think that other people, not just Mormons, will be able to relate to his feeling of loss as we've all dealt with losing things precious to us.
Q: For this Book of Mormon text you are starting from (and without, right now, other texts and and poems): would you talk a little about Requiem vs. Passion and why Passion is the direction you are choosing?
A: Hmm...Requiem vs. Passion? I think the Requiem is a memorial piece. It's told from the outside, whether that means one person memorializing another person, or someone remembering an event. The Passion is told from within. Characters within the story tell how the passion unfolds and how it affects them.
I chose to use a passion as my construction tool because I feel that the overarching story in the Book of Mormon is filled with tragedy as the people continually reject the promises made to them by God. It culminates in a central figure (Mormon) who can see, know, and feel the entire story from beginning to end.