The day before Remembrance Sunday which this year will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, 300 musicians from the combined forces of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Choristers of Liverpool Cathedral, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Knabenchor Hannover, and a team of world-class soloists come together in the awe-inspiring space of Liverpool Cathedral to perform Britten’s War Requiem (10 Nov).
It is preceded the week before by a performance in Hannover’s Kuppelsaal with 470 musicians, and choristers drawn from the Liverpool and Hannover orchestras and choirs.
War Requiem has become one of great works of the 20th Century, and of all British music, a timeless and profoundly moving exploration of man’s inhumanity to man.
Britten intended the work as a gesture of reconciliation and in that spirit it was Andrew Manze, recently announced as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor, and Principal Conductor of NDR Radiophilharmonie, who invited the orchestras andchoristers of the two UNESCO Cities of Music to unite to mark this significant historical anniversary with Britten’s universal work.
On the title page of the score, Britten quoted war poet Wilfred Owen, who grew up in Birkenhead and was killed in action in 1918, aged 25 ‘My subject is war and the pity of war.’ Britten drew on Owen’s poems, fused with the traditional Latin texts throughout the work.