Posted by Kimberly Powell on 09/24/2020

Canterbury Voices

Photo:  Tapestry Photographs by Joy Neel

Benjamin Britten's War Requiem   

Written for the re-consecration of England's Coventry Cathedral and first performed there on the 30th of May, 1962, the medieval St. Michael's destroyed during the Battle of Britain in World War I, the War Requiem of Benjamin Britten was commissioned  for the ceremony marking the completion of the new cathedral designed by Basil Spence, built along side the ruins of the original structure.  Widely regarded as Britten's masterpiece in the non-operatic sphere and the greatest choral work of the 20th century, the work provided the composer an opportunity to publicly state his pacifist and humanitarian beliefs, and to denounce the wickedness of war.  Scored for mixed chorus, boy's choir, portative organ and both chamber and full orchestras, and also written specifically for three soloists, an English tenor, Russian soprano and German baritone,  the Requiem was created to serve also as a symbol of reconciliation.  Choosing to intersperse settings of the Latin text from the traditional Requiem Mass with nine poems by the World War I poet Wilfred Owen, a British foot soldier killed a week before the Armistice, Britten created a remarkable work of both subtle and powerful contrasts and ironies, and one which continues to move listeners and audiences across the world, who respond to its direct style and its timeless relevance.  

On Armistice Day, Sunday, November 11th, at Oklahoma City’s Civic Center Music Hall, Canterbury Voices offered a concert commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I and honoring Oklahoma veterans and active duty military personnel with the performance of Britten’s Requiem.  Joining the choral society for this special presentation, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Oklahoma City University Chamber Choir and University Singers, Canterbury Youth Voices Central Chorale and special guest artists; soprano Amanda Kingston, tenor Steven Paul Spears and baritone Gabriel Preisser.

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