The WFMT Radio Network

WFMT Radio Network

Benjamin Britten: War Requiem

Genre: Classical Music, Documentary
Length: 1 hour 52 minutes
Frequency: Special
DELIVERY TYPE: ContentDepot File transfer and CD
Optional Breaks: One
Host: Peter van de Graaff
Commentary: James Conlon
Producer: Jon Tolansky
Executive Producer: Steve Robinson

In honor of Memorial Day (May 26th), the WFMT Radio Network presents Benjamin Brittenís War Requiem in a special performance by massed choirs and orchestra conducted by James Conlon, given at Disney Hall in November 2013 to commemorate the composerís centenary. After the performance Maestro Conlon introduces a studio recording of Brittenís Cantata Misericordium as a short companion piece to the War Requiem.

The War Requiem, Op. 66, is a large-scale, non-liturgical setting of the Requiem Mass composed by Benjamin Britten mostly in 1961 and completed in January 1962. The War Requiem, first performed on 30 May 1962, was commissioned to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, which was built after the original fourteenth-century structure was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid.

Britten, a pacifist, was inspired by the commission, which gave him complete freedom in deciding what to compose. He chose to set the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead interwoven with nine poems about war by the English poet Wilfred Owen.

The work is scored for soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, chorus, boys' choir, organ, and two orchestras (a full orchestra and a chamber orchestra). The chamber orchestra accompanies the intimate settings of the English poetry, while soprano, choirs and orchestra are used for the Latin sections; all forces are combined in the conclusion.

Britten: War Requiem (Tamara Wilson, Joseph Kaiser, Phillip Addis, USC Thornton Chamber Singers, USC Thornton Concert Choir, Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir, CSU-Fullerton University Singers, Chapman University Singers, Los Angeles Children's Chorus, New Zealand Youth Choir, Colburn Orchestra, members of USC Thornton Symphony Orchestra, conductor James Conlon) live recording from Disney Hall

Britten: Cantata Misericordium (Sir Peter Pears, LSO Chorus, London Symphony Orchestra, conductor Benjamin Britten) Decca 468 811-2

Benjamin Britten was born on November 22, 1913 in Lowestoft, England, a fishing port and seaside resort about 100 miles northeast of London. His father was an affluent dental surgeon and his mother was an accomplished amateur singer. Benjamin Britten is widely regarded as the greatest British composer of his generation: a master of dramatic music in the forms of opera, choral and orchestral works. Often out of sympathy with the prevailing musical establishment, Britten brought into his music influences from European and American contemporary composers, as well as Balinese gamelan. He was equally adept at writing for professionals, amateurs and children, and composed prolifically throughout his life until illness curtailed his activities. He was awarded a life peerage in 1976, becoming Lord Britten of Aldeburgh where he lived for more than thirty years and founded the famous festival in 1948. Benjamin Britten died on December 4, 1976.

This special Benjamin Britten program is available free of charge to all stations and will be available immediately for 1 broadcast before September 30, 2014.

For more information, please contact Tony Macaluso at 773-279-2114,, Estlin Usher at 773-279-2112, or David Sims at 773-279-2027.