Providence Singers joins with the New England Philharmonic, Chorus Pro Musica, and the Boston Children’s Chorus for landmark concerts in Boston and Providence cathedrals in the 50th anniversary year of Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece.
BOSTON and PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Providence Singers joins forces with three premier Boston organizations to perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in grand style, featuring more than 300 singers and orchestral musicians, on Saturday, March 3, 2012, at 8 p.m. at Boston’s neo-Gothic Cathedral of the Holy Cross; and on Sunday, March 4, 2012, at 3:30 p.m. at Providence’s Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul.
The New England Philharmonic, under the direction of Richard Pittman; the Providence Singers and Chorus pro Musica, both under the direction of Betsy Burleigh; and the Boston Children’s Chorus, under the direction of Anthony Trecek-King join to present Benjamin Britten’s historic War Requiem, one of the greatest compositions of the 20th century and one of the most profound statements about war and pacifism in all of classical music. Mr. Pittman will conduct the concerts; soloists include soprano Sarah Pelletier, tenor Frank Kelley and baritone Sumner Thompson.
Coming together in homage to our fallen soldiers and the ongoing quest for peace, all four musical organizations wish to honor the end of the nine year Iraq War in December 2011.
The New England Philharmonic, which initiated this collaboration for its 35th anniversary season, is presenting the Boston concert on March 3; the Providence Singers is presenting the Providence concert on March 4 as part of its 40th anniversary season.
The Cathedral of the Holy Cross is located at 1400 Washington Street in Boston. Tickets ($35 adults, $20 students) can be purchased online at www.nephilharmonic.org or at the door if available. For more information about the Boston concert, call Chorus pro Musica at 800-658-4276.
The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul is located at Weybosset and Fenner Streets in Providence. Adult tickets are $32; student tickets are free at the door with valid student ID, through the support of the Carter Fund. Tickets can be purchased at www.providencesingers.org or at the door if available. For more information, call the Providence Singers at 401-751-5700.
The War Requiem is a large-scale work, scored for soprano, tenor, and baritone soloists, chorus, boys choir, orchestra, chamber orchestra, and organ. Written for the re-consecration in 1962 of the bombed Coventry Cathedral, its roots lie deep in World War I, the horrible “war to end all wars.” The text intersperses the timeless words of the Latin Mass for the Dead with the vivid poetry of Wilfred Owen, a World War I British soldier-poet who was killed a week before the Armistice.
The 1930s in Britain was not an easy time or place for a committed pacifist. Germany was arming; peace seemed an unlikely proposition. Yet Benjamin Britten’s abhorrence of violence was deeply seated and of long standing. He sought conscientious objector status in 1942, then continued “the work I’m most qualified to do” — composing, performing, and, at war’s end, mounting concerts with Yehudi Menuhin at the liberated Bergen–Belsen concentration camp. As England’s premier composer, Britten was commissioned to write a requiem for the Coventry Cathedral reconsecration in May 1962. His treatment of war, tempered by the poetry of Wilfred Owen, two world wars, and the Cold War gloom of nuclear arms, was not celebratory. “When you hear Britten’s music – if you really hear it, not just listen to it superficially,” said Leonard Bernstein, “you become aware of something very dark. There are gears that are grinding and not quite meshing. And they make a great pain. It was a difficult and lonely time.”
In anticipation of the March 4 concert, the Providence Singers will host a preview party with Professor Thomas Brooks and Dr. Betsy Burleigh, exploring the wartime poetry of Wilfred Owen and Britten’s brilliant melding of Owen’s work with the traditional Latin texts. The poetry preview takes place at 6 p.m., February 7, 2012, at the Carter Center for Music Education, 667 Waterman Avenue in East Providence. Refreshments will be provided; this event is free and open to the public, made possible through support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Benjamin Britten | War Requiem
The New England Philharmonic, Richard Pittman, conductor
The Providence Singers, Betsy Burleigh, artistic director
Chorus Pro Musica, Betsy Burleigh, music director
The Boston Children’s Chorus, Anthony Trecek-King, artistic director
Sarah Pelletier, soprano; Frank Kelley, tenor; Sumner Thompson, baritone
Boston: 8 p.m. Saturday, March 3, 2012
Cathedral of the Holy Cross, 1400 Washington Street
Presented by New England Philharmonic
Tickets: $35; $20 students
Providence: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, March 4, 2012
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, 30 Fenner Street (Weybosset and Fenner Streets)
Presented by The Providence Singers
Tickets: $32; students free with valid ID
Poetry Preview Party: Wilfred Owen and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem
6 p.m. Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Carter Center for Music Education, 667 Waterman Avenue, East Providence, R.I.
Dr. Thomas Brooks and Dr. Betsy Burleigh, presenters
Free and open to the public; light refreshments
Providence Singers: Christine Hauck, communications director, 401-751-5700
Chorus pro Musica: Sue Auclair, Sue Auclair Promotions 617-522-1394
New England Philharmonic: Casey Soward, 617-875-1315
Boston Children’s Chorus: Katelyn Carson, 617-778-2242 x229