April 12 - Belfast's Harland and Wolff, which built Titanic, has sponsored the composition a requiem marking the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking. Matt Cowan reports.
In the shadow of the shipyard where the Titanic was built, a new piece of music dedicated to those who lost their lives when it sank. NAT SOUND A Requiem to the Lost Souls of Titanic was composed by Philip Hammond. SOUNDBITE: Philip Hammond, Composer, saying (English) "So my first image was of these lost souls at the bottom of the sea, two and a half miles down, trapped on the ship who couldn't get out from that - if you like - darkness." More than 1500 lives were lost when Titanic sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. The gleaming new visitor centre Titanic Belfast, built on the site where the ship itself was constructed, is a testament to the enduring fascination with the tragedy. The nearby Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is staging an exhibition called Titanica which tells the story of how the ship came to be, the people who built it and what happened when it went down. The Museum's William Blair says Belfast has not always been so comfortable trumpeting its role in the Titanic story. SOUNDBITE: William Blair, Head of Human History, National Museums Northern Ireland saying (English): "Belfast historically has had a rather ambiguous relationship with the story. It's almost like mentioning MacBeth in the theatre. It was just bad form to do so but i think over time we've come to realise and to maybe better appreciate what Titanic represents as a window on Belfast's industrial prowess at that time." Harland and Wolff - the Belfast company that built Titanic - is still standing. Though it rarely gets involved in Titanic-related festivities, it's making an exception for this anniversary. It is one of the sponsor's of Hammond's requiem. David McVeigh is the company's sales and marketing manager. SOUNDBITE: David McVeigh, Sales and Marketing Manager Harland and Wolff saying (English): "Obviously the subject is delicate for Harland and Wolff. We do not wish to be seen to be participating from any financial gain related to Titanic because we feel culpable even 100 years later there's still this emotional link to the fact that there was a huge loss of life so therefore what we want to do is demonstrate our connection to it in a way that's respectful to those who lost their lives and I think that this is the perfect vehicle for that." For the shipbuilders, the tragedy also had a personal dimension. A group of 9 so-called Guarantee Men who joined Titanic for its maiden voyage. None survived. The premiere performance of Hammond's requiem will take place at St. Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on the evening of April 14th - 100 years to the day after the ship hit an iceberg. Matt Cowan, Reuters