Sang Britten's War Requiem

When I first found out I'd been accepted to Cranfield, one of the first things I did was check the school calendar to see if I'd be able to sing in the Bach Choir's performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in this year's Bury Festival. I wasn't sure how the timings would work out, but was really hopeful that I'd be able to make it back from school in time for the concert.

This past weekend at school was one of the best I've had - a combination of lectures, a dinner out with my Learning Team, and a brilliant run on Friday evening. I had a really bizarre experience during our leadership lecture on Friday - it was like an overwhelming rush of feeling like This Is Exactly Where I'm Supposed To Be Right Now And It's Awesome. I wouldn't wish any of the heartbreak of the last two years on anyone, but I'd also wouldn't trade where I am now for anything.

So. Stupendous school weekend (with probably slightly less than the optimum sleep level), and I left our last lecture of the day at the midpoint break to hop in Kermit and blast up the A14 back to Bury. I arrived with about 45 mins to spare, which was perfect.

I'd heard from my buddies that the afternoon rehearsal had gone reasonably well, and I was really looking forward to the performance. I really love Britten's music: he wrote so well for amateur choirs, and I have really enjoyed our performances of his Ceremony of Carols and The Company Of Heaven, along with several of his other smaller works.

War Requiem did not disappoint. The soloists were absolutely outstanding, and the juxtaposition of the martial-themed music (dissonant brass fanfares, marching drums), Wilfred Owen's devastating war poetry, the cathedral choirboys singing and chanting parts of the Requiem mass, and the choir mourning the dead soldiers was even more moving than I'd expected. There's a fine line between being caught up in the music and becoming so emotional that you can't actually sing, and I did think I was going to lose my grip at one point.

I'm SO glad I was able to perform in the concert (particularly as it was looking doubtful for a while) - because it's such a huge piece with so many performers required it's expensive to stage and isn't performed very frequently by choirs like us. We had a huge audience and they seemed to really enjoy it, although possibly not as much as I did.

Here's a link to the 1964 Royal Albert Hall performance (with Peter Pears singing the tenor solo and Britten conducting the chamber orchestra). Enjoy!