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26th September 2013
One of the most devastating reminders of the plight of ordinary citizens during the Second World War, the Blitz signifies an unforgettable moment in history, not least for those affected by the incessant bombing of London during 1940-1. The Bach Choir and conductor David Hill are honoured to present the world premiere of David Goode’s largest-scale work to date, Blitz Requiem. Setting to music the intensely-moving eponymous poem by World War II poet Francis Warner, it tells personal stories of this momentous period, in the most famous building to survive the Blitz, St Paul’s Cathedral.
Second World War poet Francis Warner experienced the Blitz first-hand as a child and his poignant account of his family’s experiences provided the inspiration for renowned organist and composer David Goode. Based on the structure of the Latin Requiem Mass, Goode’s direct and engaging music captures the vivid imagery of Warner’s poetry; haunting images of dead children laid out on their playground, Warner’s mother giving birth under the dining room table in the midst of one of the heaviest bombing raids of the war (27 September 1940); air-raid sirens and the all-clear are all portrayed in this imaginative and compelling setting.
The Blitz Requiem is the culmination of 10 years of collaboration between poet and composer, whose first choice of choir to stage the world premiere of this momentous work was The Bach Choir – one of the world’s leading choirs and the UK’s only independent large chorus. Drawing together the 200-strong members and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the occasion, Blitz Requiem is the latest milestone in a rich history of notable events for this prestigious choir. One particularly noteworthy parallel is The Bach Choir’s role in the early life of Britten’s War Requiem – combining the Latin Requiem Mass with war poems by Wilfred Owen. The choir was invited to sing on the first (and seminal) recording in 1963; the disc sold 250,000 copies in the first five months of its release and is still going strong today.
Notes From the Composer / Conductor
David Goode explains:
“The Blitz Requiem was written for a choral society in mind and who better than The Bach Choir to portray an extraordinary world event as seen through the circumstances of the daily lives of ordinary people: they are a national choir, marking one of the most important events in our national history. I’m so excited at the prospect of my largest-scale work to date (50 minutes) being performed by this magnificent choir and orchestra in the inspiring and historic surroundings of St Paul’s. The building lends itself brilliantly to musical and spatial ideas – and its unforgettable role in the Blitz gives this special occasion even further significance.”
Francis Warner comments:
“It is a great honour that my personal experiences of the Blitz will be lifted into the music of David Goode’s unique gifts, through the expertise of The Bach Choir and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, in this world-wide symbol of faithful endurance, St Paul’s Cathedral, which the full onslaught of the Nazi bombers could not destroy as I saw its dome and cross tower above the flames of Armageddon.”
The Blitz Requiem on Classic FM
The Blitz Requiem on Classical Source