Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem concert at Gresham’s School

Gresham's School pupils rehearsing for their performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Gresham's School pupils rehearsing for their performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
7:00 AM

Music lovers will be able to hear a rarely performed composition by Benjamin Britten at his former north Norfolk school.

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Making Music workshop at Gresham's Prep School, Holt. Left to right, Phoebe Phelps 9 from Corpusty Primary School, Harvey Waring 8 from Gresham's Pre-Prep School, Nat King 9 from Gresham's Prep School and Emma-Jean Bird 9 from Cawston Primary School.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYMaking Music workshop at Gresham's Prep School, Holt. Left to right, Phoebe Phelps 9 from Corpusty Primary School, Harvey Waring 8 from Gresham's Pre-Prep School, Nat King 9 from Gresham's Prep School and Emma-Jean Bird 9 from Cawston Primary School. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

War Requiem, written in 1961, will be sung and played by 300 people at the Gresham’s School sports hall in Holt on Sunday, March 10 at 6.30pm.

The “moving” piece of music lasts for an hour and a half and combines words from traditional Latin mass and extracts from Wilfred Owen’s first world war poetry.

It has been put on to mark the centenary of Benamin Britten’s birth and to celebrate his time at the school - he boarded at Gresham’s between 1928 and 1930.

Conductor Mark Jones, director of music at Gresham’s senior school, said: “The War Requiem is something you get involved with once in your lifetime because it is so colossal. It has never been performed in north Norfolk before.”

He added it was the most challenging piece of music he had worked on in his career.

“We always feel the responsibility that we should be performing Britten’s music on a regular basis so all generations of Gresham’s students know his music,” Mr Jones added.

About 70 pupils from the prep and senior school will be taking part in the performance, as will members of the Gresham’s Choral Society which includes teachers, parents and friends of the school.

War Requiem was written to mark the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral and performed in the cathedral on May 30, 1962.

The 14th century cathedral was destroyed in a second world war bombing raid.

Tickets for the concert cost £15 and can be bought by ringing the Auden Theatre box office on 01263 713444.

The Britten Arts Festival is currently taking place at Gresham’s School with a broad range of events on offer. Further information is available via www.greshams.com/britten100.

For more information on Britten centenary events taking place across East Anglia, visit www.familiarfields.org and www.britten100.org/home.

-Music by the celebrated composer also featured in a Making Music strings and voice workshop at Gresham’s prep school on Friday.

About 130 youngsters aged between eight and 14 from Gresham’s pre-prep and prep schools, Alderman Peel High School in Wells, Cawston Primary School, Corpusty Primary School and Holt Primary School took part.

The day ended with a concert in the senior school chapel which included Psalm 150, Fridays Afternoons and Oliver Cromwell, all written by Britten.

Nathan Waring, director of music at Gresham’s prep school, said: “It is really exciting. There is a real buzz. It is fantastic because it is involving the whole community.”

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