Skip to main content

Saturday November 16h 2013, 7:30 pm

Albert Hall, Nottingham
Conductors: Paul Hale, Mark Heron & Michael Overbury, Soloists: Katherine Broderick (Soprano), Thomas Walker (Tenor), Ben Appl (Bass)
With Nottingham Bach Choir, Chamber Ensemble from Royal Northern College of Music, The Choristers from Southwell Minster and Nottingham Boys Choir

War Requiem

Britten: War Requiem

This very special concert is part of Nottingham's celebration of the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten.  It features just one work, the extraordinarily powerful and moving War Requiem.

Britten wrote the War Requiem in 1961 and it was first performed on 30 May 1962, to mark the opening of the new Coventry cathedral, which replaced the old medieval building destroyed during the Second World War.  In it Britten spoke to his widest audience, for the event appealed strongly to him as a committed pacifist and hater of cruelty and violence.  He determined to make a public protest, in a world still divided by wars and terrorism, against the obscenity of mass slaughter.  It is an indictment of our current society that such a protest is still needed today.

The music is uniquely moving, for Britten combined a setting of the Latin Requiem mass with settings of poems written during the 1914-1918 war by Wilfred Owen, himself a victim of that war just a week before the armistice in 1918.  Thus we contrast the cool consolation of the ritual of the mass, with the hotly passionate words of a man embroiled in the slaughter of the trenches.

As well as a symphony orchestra and large chorus the work calls for three soloists, which at the first performance were intended to be the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, English tenor Peter Pears, and German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, further emphasising the reconciliation being sought.  There is also a small boys' choir and a separate chamber orchestra.  The Requiem is almost two parallel works, for the choirs, soprano and full orchestra sing the Latin requiem mass, while the Owen poems are sung by the tenor and baritone accompanied by the chamber orchestra.  The way the music slides between one group and the other gives great variety to the listener, and everyone comes together with powerful effect for the closing “Let us sleep now...”.

After the first performance a critic described the War Requiem as “... so superbly proportioned and calculated, so humiliating and disturbing in its effect, in fact so tremendous, that every performance it is given ought to be a momentous occasion.”  We will do our best to ensure that this is, indeed, a momentous occasion in Nottingham's musical life!

Tickets

All seats £15 (no concessions).
All seating unreserved.

Book tickets

Tickets also available on the door

Click here to join the NPO Friends Scheme