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The Bach Choir: Britten’s War Requiem

Westminster Cathedral
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The Philharmonia and The Bach Choir in concert at Royal Festival Hall


David Hill – conductor
Elizabeth Watts – soprano
Andrew Staples – tenor
Mark Stone – baritone
London Youth Choirs – LYC Junior Boys & LYC Junior Girls
The Bach Choir


Britten War Requiem

The scars of war never heal. Few know this better than Benjamin Britten, a lifelong pacifist who used the poetry of Wilfred Owen to depict the horrors of war in his 1962 War Requiem.

The work was composed to honour the new Coventry Cathedral after the 14th-century cathedral was destroyed by German bombs in World War II. The Bach Choir made a celebrated recording of the War Requiem in 1963, conducted by Britten himself, and it has always held a special place in the choir’s repertoire.

Wilfred Owen documented the sorrow and hardship of war directly from the battlefield, where he was killed in action in 1918. His words still resonate uncomfortably over a century later: “We laughed, knowing that better men would come, And greater wars.”

Contrasts hang heavy in the air throughout Britten’s setting of Owen’s poetry, interspersed between movements of the Latin Requiem Mass that it’s paired with. The tritone interval (or ‘The Devil’s Interval’) is conjured up frequently by the piece’s huge ensemble and choirs. It strives for resolution and peace, but never fully finds it. It’s a powerful metaphor for war and reconciliation.

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Prices & Discounts

£10 – £74

Group booking discount available

Running time

1 hr 35 mins, without an interval

Recommended age

From 7+

Box office

The Bach Choir

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