14 A wartime mas­ter­piece

Toronto Life - - Culture -

| English com­poser Ben­jamin Brit­ten—a com­mit­ted paci­fist and con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor dur­ing the Sec­ond World War—wrote an emo­tional mas­ter­piece to mark the 1962 con­se­cra­tion of the new Coven­try Cathe­dral (the orig­i­nal build­ing was de­stroyed dur­ing a bomb­ing raid). In a bril­liant choral gam­bit, he com­bined the tra­di­tional Latin mass for the dead with poignant anti-war poems by Wil­fred Owen, who was killed in bat­tle one week be­fore the armistice brought the First World War to an end. Com­bin­ing power and out­rage with in­ti­mate po­etic de­tails, it’s a sprawl­ing com­po­si­tion wor­thy of al­most ev­ery re­source the Toronto Sym­phony Orches­tra can of­fer: a full orches­tra, a cham­ber orches­tra, a full choir, a boys’ choir, three vo­cal soloists and an or­gan.

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