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This preview has been provided by the North Carolina Symphony.
On April 7 and 8, more than 200 musicians will perform Benjamin Britten's monumental War Requiem at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. North Carolina Symphony Music Director Grant Llewellyn will lead NCS (with musicians comprising both a full orchestra and separate chamber orchestra), as well as the North Carolina Master Chorale, Raleigh Boychoir, an organist, and three vocal soloists who are regulars on the world's leading opera stages – Tamara Wilson, soprano; Nicholas Phan, tenor; and Stephen Powell, baritone.
The performance is given as part of a statewide centennial commemoration of North Carolina's involvement in World War I, an initiative led by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR). NCS is proud to take part in recognizing the sacrifices made by so many in our state 100 years ago, with this concert leading off the opening weekend of North Carolina in the Great War.
Due to the sheer logistics, Britten's powerful masterwork is not often performed. "Presenting the War Requiem is a momentous occasion for our orchestra," says NCS President and CEO Sandi Macdonald. "Symphonic music – especially a work of this magnitude—has a profound emotional impact and we are honored to commemorate the contributions of North Carolinians during World War I through our art."
With the massive musical forces involved, performances of this work often involve two conductors, but Llewellyn has chosen to undertake it on his own. It will be his first time conducting the War Requiem in performance – and it is a moment he has looked forward to since he led rehearsals of the piece in West Berlin in the 1980s. "The War Requiem flows beautifully from global messages to very intimate exchanges," says Llewellyn. "I felt that to mark the centennial of the United States entering the First World War in 1917, it would be a fitting tribute."
Britten wrote his War Requiem for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral in England in 1962, which was rebuilt after the original 14th-century structure was destroyed by a raid during World War II. His work masterfully intersperses the traditional Latin Requiem Mass with poetry about war that was written by Wilfred Owen while he served in World War I. Owen was killed in battle in France, just one week prior to the Armistice, making his words about the carnage of war all the more poignant. As a lifelong pacifist, Britten's work comments on the horror of war; yet, when all of the musical forces combine at the end of this 90-minute tour de force, the final message is one of hope.
Pre-concert activities in the Meymandi Concert Hall lobby will provide historical context for Britten's music. Living history interpreters from the Great War Tar Heels will be present in uniform, and concertgoers will be among the first to have the opportunity to view a traveling exhibit, which will then make its way to locations all across the state throughout the year. The exhibit traces the history of North Carolina's involvement in World War I – from the development of military training camps in our state, to the first soldiers who went to fight in Europe, to those who supported the efforts at home. NCS presents a pre-concert talk with Kevin Cherry, Deputy Secretary for Archives, History, and Parks at NCDNCR; Jessica Bandel, Research Historian at NCDNCR; and tenor Nicholas Phan each evening at 7PM.
Additional North Carolina in the Great War events taking place the same weekend include the opening of the World War I exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History and a wreath laying ceremony on Capital Square. For further information, visit NCDCR.gov/worldwarI. Join the conversation about North Carolina in the Great War on social media with the hashtag #NCWW1.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
North Carolina Symphony
Britten's War Requiem
Friday & Saturday, April 7 & 8, 2017 at 8 pm
Meymandi Concert Hall
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (Raleigh)
North Carolina Symphony
North Carolina Master Chorale
Tamara Wilson, soprano
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Stephen Powell, baritone
Grant Llewellyn, conductor
Britten: War Requiem
TICKETS START AT $18
Online: ncsymphony.org (TicketMaster fees apply)
By phone: 919.733.2750 ($8 processing fee applies)
In-person: NCS State Headquarters Offices,
3700 Glenwood Ave., Suite 130, Raleigh (No processing fee)
About the North Carolina Symphony
Founded in 1932, the North Carolina Symphony (NCS) is a vital and honored component of North Carolina's cultural life. Its 175 concerts and events annually are greeted with enthusiasm by adults and schoolchildren in more than 90 North Carolina counties – in communities large and small, and in concert halls, auditoriums, gymnasiums, restaurants, clubs, and outdoor settings. The Symphony's 66 full-time professional musicians perform under the artistic leadership of Music Director Grant Llewellyn.
NCS's state headquarters venue is the spectacular Meymandi Concert Hall at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. The Symphony's service across the state includes series in Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, New Bern, Southern Pines, and Wilmington, as well as the Summerfest series at its summer home, the outdoor Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Collaborating with performers that range from classical artists, to banjo players, to jazz bands, NCS brings some of the world's greatest talents to North Carolina.
Committed to engaging students of all ages across North Carolina, NCS leads the most extensive education program of any U.S. orchestra. In alignment with the curriculum set by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the Symphony provides training and resources for teachers, sends small ensembles into classrooms, and presents full-orchestra Education Concerts experienced by more than 52,000 4th and 5th graders each year. Music Discovery for preschoolers combines music with storytelling, and at the middle and high school levels, students have opportunities to work directly with NCS artists and perform for NCS audiences.
NCS is dedicated to giving voice to new art, and has presented 47 U.S. or world premieres in its history. In March 2017, NCS will appear at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as one of four orchestras chosen for the inaugural year of SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras – an honor that recognizes the Symphony's innovative community partnerships and creative programming that inspires increased interest in new music. The Symphony will present works by composers with ties to North Carolina, including Sarah Kirkland Snider, Caroline Shaw, Mason Bates, and Robert Ward.
The first state-supported symphony in the country, NCS performs under the auspices of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.