From left, chief choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir Lukáš Vasilek, director of the PKF – Prague Philharmonic Kateřina Kalistová, head of the Office of the President of the Republic Jana Vohralíková, director of the Prague Sounds festival Marek Vrabec, member of the board of directors of the PPF Foundation Jana Tomas Sedláčková and general director of the Czech Philharmonic and the Prague Philharmonic Choir David Mareček at the ceremonial toast at the end of the press conference for the presentation of the anti-war oratorio War Requiem by the British composer Benjamin Britten, performed by the combined orchestras of the Czech Philharmonic, PKF – Prague Philharmonia and the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonic Choir and international soloists, June 8, 2023, Prague. The concert will take place on September 3 at Prague Castle.
Prague – British composer Benjamin Britten's monumental anti-war oratorio will be performed on September 3 in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle. In a place associated with Czech history and important events of the country, several orchestras will perform the composition symbolically, the Czech ensembles will be completed by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra. The organizers intend the evening not only as an ordeal for war victims, but also as an extremely impressive appeal towards ending the war. They told reporters today.
“It will be enhanced by the unique environment and acoustics of the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle. An exceptional concert of an exceptional work in an exceptional time,” said Marek Vrabec, director of the Prague Sounds festival, whose program includes the concert. The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia and the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra, the Prague Philharmonic Choir and international soloists will meet on stage.
“The Vladislav Hall is only available for exceptional projects, it is a space where history has passed and is intended for the highest state events,” said the castle's chancellor Jana Vohralíková today. According to her, one of two such extraordinary events is today's Benefit Concert for the Future, at which the singer Magdalena Kožená will perform, the other being the War Requiem. They are projects that could give hope that times are changing, she added.
Due to the large number of artists for whom a large stage needs to be built, the audience area in the hall will be reduced. According to Vrabek, the capacity of the auditorium will be about 600 seats, of which about half are sold today.
British composer Benjamin Britten wrote War Requiem in 1962 to mark the completion of the restoration of Coventry Gothic Cathedral after its destruction in World War II. Britten, who became famous primarily as an opera composer, combined a liturgical text with English verse in his War Requiem. They come from the pen of British infantry officer Wilfred Owen, who fell on the Western Front just a few days before the end of the First World War.
The artistic sophistication and the enormous demands on the operating apparatus are the reason why one of Britten's most famous compositions is only performed rarely. The Prague Philharmonic Choir under the baton of conductor Lukáš Vasilek performed it in Prague's Rudolfinum this year on the eve of the anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine.
Soprano Susanne Bernhardová, tenor Kyle van will take the solo parts at the concert in the Vladislav Hall, as they did this February Schoonhoven and baritone Arvid Fagerfjäll. The boys' choir part will be performed by members of the Radost Praha Children's Choir.