Tuesday, 18 June 2013

100th, 60th and 50th anniversaries

I well remember the Spring of 1962 because of the fuss surrounding the first performance of Britten's War requiem at Coventry Cathedral . I lived near by sang in a local choir and there was a real buzz about the event. The first performance was around the same time as the Cathedral was consecrated and I think I also remember a royal visit. There was a lot of television coverage of the building of the cathedral and film of a helicopter lowering something-which looked like a giant television ariel- on to the new structure. I remember a school visit, the John Piper window and having to draw the Graham Sutherland tapestry behind the high altar, but compared to all that it was talk of the Requiem that stands out in my memory. All that was 50 odd years ago, this year is the centenary of Britten's birth and his music is being performed all over the place.

On Saturday I went to The Trinity Arts Festival where the Southport Bach Choir was singing, among other things, some Britten. They had chosen a piece I'd never heard from a Britten opera that was a 'flop'-Choral Dances from Glorianna'. The opera had been commissioned as part of the celebrations for the coronation 60 years ago among much talk of the ushering in of a new Elizabethan Age. (I somehow don't think that at the next coronation there will be as much talk of a new Carolinian Age after the fate of the first Charles.) Given that the plot of the Opera centred around the relationship of Elizabeth and the Earl of Essex you can understand why the Queen was non too impressed. Apparently a new production has been  commission for the Diamond Jubilee. Whether the Queen or the critic rate the piece more highly second time around remains to be seen, but certainly on Saturday night the choir gave an excellent performance which suggests that the the time may be right for a new production

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