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The Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster is bringing together a combination of singers and musicians to perform Benjamin Britten’s massive War Requiem. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Britten, one of the leading English composers of the 20th century.
Conductor Simon Andrews says that the concert has been a year in the making. The Chancel Choir of the church will be augmented with singers drawn from many other church choirs and choral groups throughout Lancaster to create a chorus of close to 80 singers. These will be joined as well by members of the Mennonite Children’s Choir of Lancaster. In addition the work calls for a large orchestra, a chamber orchestra, and three soloists.
Benjamin Britten wrote the work to celebrate the reconstruction of the Coventry Cathedral, which had been destroyed by German saturation bombing in World War II. He chose to use the traditional Latin text of the Requiem mass for the work, but interwove texts by soldier/poet Wilfred Owen.
Wilfred Owen was a young officer in the English army during World War I who wrote his poetry while he was on the battlefield. He wrote about the horrors of war, the gas attacks and trench warfare he experienced. Owen was killed in battle at the age of 21 just a week before the Armistice was signed and the war ended. Britten used a number of Owen’s poems to make his War Requiem a passionate plea for peace.
The performance is on June 1, starting at 7 p.m. at the Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster.
Below you can hear our interview with Simon Andrews with some of the music of The War Requiem.
Wilfred Owen's poem, Anthem
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