Thursday, March 20, 2003


"My subject is war and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity... all a poet can do today is warn..." Wilfred Owen

Well, maybe music didn't die exactly. But it is difficult to concentrate on harmony and resonance when the deafening silence of a world on the brink of war and destruction is all around you. Appropriately, then, the new catalogue for the forthcoming Brighton Festival (3 - 25 May 2003, in over 30 venues throughout the city) highlights as one of its premier musical events a performance of Britten's salutary and passonately engaged 'War Requiem'.

Written for the re-consecration of Coventry Cathedral, partially destroyed by bombs in the second world war, it was first performed on 30 May 1962. Interestingly, fellow conscientious objector Michael Tippett's psychologically complex and instrumentally taut opera King Priam (currently enjoying a fresh production in the Netherlands) was featured alongside it that day.

At the Brighton Festival the 'Requiem' is to be performed on 16 May at the Dome by the City of London Sinfonia under the baton of Richard Hickox, with Janice Watson (sop), James Gilchrist (ten) and Christopher Maltman (bar) -- alongside the Brighton Festival Chorus and Youth Choir. Hickox, of course, is now set to head up Opera Australia in Sydney.

There are rather fewer new music / contemporary classical events announced for the Brighton Festival this year than last. What is on offer so far is signalled as Music Now. No doubt it will grow slightly (with 'fringe' events, et al) in the next few weeks.

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