As a child, I cried myself to sleep fearing my parents’ death, keenly aware of mortality. So when presented with the opportunity to write a requiem, I took it as my chance to come to terms with and prepare for my parents’ passing. I interviewed caregivers, and researched how the Tibetan Buddhist, Aztec, and Zoroastrian and Christian traditions contend with death. I overlapped and departed from them to write a personal requiem from the perspective of the dying, their loved ones, and vigilers.


Epiphany is a collaboration between visual artist Ali Hossaini, composer Paola Prestini, installation artist Maruti Evans, director Michael McQuilken, and writer Niloufar Talebi. It is originally conceived by Ali, who reflected on his mother's description of her last days. Ali discovered years later how similar her descriptions were to writings in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Our story opens as the natural powers of perception fade and the world becomes more animate, the first transformative steps towards death.


Niloufar’s text is an amalgam of poetry, prayers, and death-bed soliloquies. Paola created a modern Requiem mass. Ali’s visual grammar mirrors the complex melodies and underlying rhythms of Paola’s compositions to create a synaesthetic environment that celebrates the passages of life and death. Epiphany expands the concept and mood of a traditional Requiem.


Life gains its value from the certainty of death. Epiphany is the realization and celebration of the life force/soul/consciousness, its continual transformation as the dying let go of earthly attachments, releasing into the unknown. It is a record of the thoughts rushing through the dying person's mind, the conversation with the self, with others, and with the divine/angels/afterlife. Epiphany is an affirmation to LIVE LIFE TO ITS FULLEST, every pulsating moment, for death is certain, and life after death, and the notion of rebirth, a mystery laden with possibility. 


The immersive BAM performances opened with the earthly Epiphany, followed by Netsayi’s celebratory and poetic Intermezzo, and concluded with Ouroboros accompanied by a 3D film that took audiences on a meditative journey imagining the beyond. The National Sawdust Epiphany performance was a concert version.