Illustration photo – Prague Philharmonic Choir
Prague – The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PFS) under the baton of conductor Lukáš Vasilek will perform War requiem by British composer Benjamin Britten. Britten's vast composition, responding to the Second World War, is considered an iconic work of the 20th century. By presenting a monumental vocal-instrumental work, PFS wants to point out the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine. February 24 marks one year since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The solo parts will be taken by soprano Susanne Bernhardová, tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven and baritone Arvid Fagerfjäll. The part of the boys' choir will be performed by members of the Radost Praha Children's Choir. The concert will be broadcast live by Czech Radio Vltava and Ukrainian Radio Suspilne.
“As soon as the February date of the concert was settled, we immediately decided to connect it with the situation in Ukraine. We all have vivid memories of the events of last year and the extremely strong atmosphere of the evening that PFS dedicated to Ukraine immediately after its attack by Russia. However, we started planning the performance of the War Requiem long before it became clear how symbolic it would be these days. It is an iconic piece of music of the 20th century, a memento of two world wars, as well as all other war conflicts that claimed countless lives,” said PFS director David Mareček.
Britten, who became famous primarily as an opera composer, combined a liturgical text with English verses in his War Requiem. These come from the pen of British infantry officer Wilfred Owen, who fell on the Western Front just days before the end of the First World War. The artistic complexity and enormous demands on the performance apparatus are the reason why one of Britten's most famous compositions is rarely performed. The premiere of War Requiem took place in May 1962 on the occasion of the consecration of the rebuilt Anglican cathedral in the city of Coventry, destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.