War Requiem on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate First World War centenary

The Royal Choral Society and London Philharmonic Orchestra will perform Benjamin Britten’s famous work on Remembrance Sunday

LPO violins © Benjamin Ealovega
Credit: Benjamin Ealovega

The Royal Choral Society will perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem on Remembrance Sunday as part of the 2014 First World War centenary commemorations.

The event will take place at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 9 November, and bring together top-flight soloists, including star bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, and the internationally-renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Royal Choral Society is one of the UK’s premier choirs and has a long history with the Royal Albert Hall. Formed in 1871 for the Hall’s opening, the choir has performed continually at its ‘spiritual home’, even throughout the First World War, when it was a pivotal force in preserving music-making in London, introducing a Sunday afternoon concert series at the Royal Albert Hall in 1915.

As well as being a poignant commemoration of those who sacrificed their lives in the First World War, funds raised from the concert will go to Veterans Aid, a charity supporting today’s ex-servicemen and women in crisis.

Britten’s War Requiem profoundly weaves together the Latin Mass for the Dead with the poetry of Wilfred Owen, the young English war poet killed in action in the final days of the First World War, and is steeped with themes of the pity of war, sacrifice and remembrance, yet also expresses hope and reconciliation.

RCS (C) KEVIN DAY_4435
Credit: Kevin Day

Britten was a pacifist and intended that the vocal soloists for the premiere of the work should represent the former warring countries: Russia, Germany and Great Britain. The performance on Remembrance Sunday, conducted by Richard Cooke, will once again bring together these three nations, represented by British bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, German tenor Stephan Rügamer and Russian soprano and 2009 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Ekaterina Scherbachenko.

Bryn Terfel commented: “I’m delighted to be singing in Britten’s War Requiem to mark such a unique occasion. To sing this piece on the Remembrance Sunday of the centenary year of the outbreak of the First World War will be a historic commemoration. The First World War affected every family in the country and heralded a century of bloodshed and destruction like no other. The Royal Albert Hall is the concert venue for marking Remembrance Sunday and I’m sure that the Royal Choral Society, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and my fellow soloists will give their all to ensure that the centenary is properly marked.”

The event is presented in association with The Lady R Foundation, a UK registered charity founded by The Dowager Viscountess Rothermere, to bring comfort and relief to the forgotten, the overlooked and the stigmatised in today’s society.

Related articles

Siegfried Sassoon’s War Diaries
The war that changed Britain forever
Britain turns out lights for First World War anniversary
WWI prints go on display in London

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