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Britten’s War Requiem


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Adelaide Festival Centre and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra present Britten’s War Requiem 

As part of Benjamin Britten’s centenary celebrations, Adelaide Festival Centre and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, under Chief Conductor Arvo Volmer, will perform the composers hugely powerful War Requiem for one night only on Saturday 2 November, 8pm in the Festival Theatre.

Composed for two orchestras, massed choirs and soloists, this grand scale performance will have 300 musicians on stage, and features soprano Dina Kuznetsova, tenor Andrew Staples and bass Marcus Farnsworth, the Adelaide Symphony Chorus and Young Adelaide Voices.

War Requiem it is Britten’s deeply moving masterpiece condemning war, and the politics of hate. First performed in May 1962, the work was commissioned to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed in the Second World War.

The work combines the traditional Latin Requiem mass text with anti-war poems by World War I poet, Wilfred Owen to create a work of immense power and great beauty. On the title page of the score, the composer quotes Owen: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. All a poet can do today is warn…”

Volmer says, “There are few pieces of music which have such a significant meaning or that carry such a weight of humanity. This is definitely one of them, like Beethoven’s Ninth and Mahler’s Eighth.”

“Peaceful existence, tolerance and empathy are eternal issues of mankind and are key to our survival. This work, with its powerful themes remains as relevant today as ever.”

Five-time Adelaide Festival Director, Anthony Steel, was in the audience in Coventry Cathedral for the World Premiere in 1962 and described it as, “One of the most intensely moving musical experiences of my life.

“The war may have been over for 17 years, but to hear Wilfred Owen’s searing poetry set so magnificently, by confirmed pacifist Britten, between the different parts of the Latin Mass for the Dead, and the symbolism of his choice of a Russian, a German and an Englishman as soloists was quite overwhelming. Particularly in the setting of the magnificent new church that Sir Basil Spence had designed to sit amongst the ruins of its destroyed 14th century predecessor,” said Steel.

“We are lucky indeed to get this chance to hear one of the 20th century’s undisputed masterpieces.”

WAR REQUIEM WHEN Saturday 2 November, 8pm

WHERE Festival Theatre

BOOKINGS BASS or 131 246

ASO 08 8233 6205/0431 228 859/

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