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war requiem 50

Last night’s performance of ‘War Requiem’ at Coventry Cathedral, 50 years to the day of its premiere, was truly memorable.

Apologies if you visited this blog before 0830 and didn’t find my usual daily post.

But my plan to write today’s post after I returned home from the concert around 2215 last night proved over optimistic.

The experience of singing Britten’s masterpiece proved exhausting on many levels, but also exhilerating.

This morning, with the benefit of a night’s sleep, I can now reflect on what was musically the most satisfying performance of the work that I’ve been involved in.

There has to be something special about performing a piece in the building for which it was conceived, and with all the attendant emotions involved for both performers and audience.

My own father’s life was scarred by his experiences in World War 2, serving as he did from joining the Territorial Army as a 19 year-old in April 1939 so he could be together with his friends in the conflict they all saw coming.

As a member of the Royal Artillery, he served in Iceland and then Normandy before being demobbed in the summer 1946 – an experience he rarely talked about before his premature death in 1981, aged just 61.

With an audience drawn from all over the world, both in the Cathedral and online via tv and radio coverage of the concert, I’m sure the message of Britten’s work will have reverberated loud and clear.

For me, the silence at the end of the performance, lasting well over a minute, will remain in my heart for a very long time.

Music’s power to communicate indescribable feelings and experiences was never more apparent.

The concert is available on The Space to users in the UK – Britten’s War Requiem – tv broadcast

And on BBC Radio via the iPlayer until 6th June 2012 – Britten’s War Requiem – Radio 3 broadcast

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