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Friday, 11 May, 2001, 08:42 GMT 09:42 UK
Composer creates McVeigh death fanfare
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh
McVeigh: Will have access to a radio before execution
A specially-created trumpet fanfare will send Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to his death after a composer saw him as an "amazing, albeit misguided talent".

Los Angeles composer David Woodard created the 12-and-a-half minute piece, which will be played on a radio station that McVeigh listens to on the morning of his scheduled execution.

The title of the piece, Ave Atque Vale, can be translated as Onward Valiant Soldier or Hail and Farewell.


I feel he deserves some sort of tribute

David Woodard
Composer
Woodard drew parallels between McVeigh and Jesus Christ, saying they share a "messianic quality", but described McVeigh's crime as a "horrible deed".

McVeigh has claimed sole responsibility for the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others.

"I think it [the music] will resonate with him. I think it will lift his spirits... My intention is to provide comfort to Tim McVeigh," Woodard said.

He says McVeigh is "33 and nearly universally despised at the time of his execution" - like Jesus Christ.

The interior of the death chamber at the US Penitentiary south of Terre Haute, Indiana
The lethal injection is scheduled for 16 May
While disagreeing with McVeigh's "horrible crime", Woodard says he finds himself "awed by who he is and his circumstances".

Woodard was refused permission to play the piece inside the jail at Terre Haute, Indiana, at the same time as McVeigh is put to death on 16 May.

Instead, he will conduct the "prequiem" during a vigil at a nearby Catholic Church the previous day.

And, after communicating with McVeigh by letter, it will also be aired on an Indiana university student radio station.

McVeigh will have access to a radio and television until one hour before his scheduled 0700 execution.

The date of the execution - by lethal injection - could be postponed after the FBI handed over thousands of documents which should have previously been made available to McVeigh's defence lawyers.

The lawyers could apply for a stay of execution or appeal against the conviction - although McVeigh has previously ordered his lawyers not to appeal.

The Alfred P Murrah Federal Building, Oklahoma City
The 1995 bombing killed 168 people
"I think it is worth my efforts to do something on his behalf because he is such an unusual person," Woodard said.

"The way in which he has managed himself [after the bombing] is unfathomably mindful and composed and I feel he deserves some sort of tribute."

He said he does not want to aggravate the citizens of Oklahoma City, who must be feeling "incredibly disconnected and psychically bruised".

"I feel horrible for them," he said. "But this piece is not related to that [crime]. It is related to this person who did that horrible deed and his circumstances as they are now."

The music was first composed for Jack Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who assisted in numerous suicides. It was first titled Farewell to a Saint.

Woodard has written and performed several compositions that are intended to be performed for a person while that person is dying.

"Everyone I have mentioned it to has tried to dissuade me, and told me it will be misinterpreted and will only bring me trouble," he said.

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See also:

11 May 01 | Americas
McVeigh execution date in doubt
19 Apr 01 | Americas
McVeigh death banned from web
19 Apr 01 | Americas
Oklahoma marks bomb anniversary
25 Apr 01 | Talking Point
Should the world watch?
12 Apr 01 | Americas
Live from death row
11 Feb 01 | Americas
Bomber wants public execution
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