Benjamin Britten, whose War Requiem will be performed by the TSO
Music is an integral part of any ceremony from the most festive to the deeply sombre. When asked “what sums up Remembrance Day to you?” our hosts responded with these choices.
Mike Duncan, co-host, “Classical Mornings”
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “A Pastoral Symphony”. Any movement from it. Stunning.
Jean Stilwell, co-host, “Classical Mornings”
“The Duruflé Requiem came to mind immediately. Requiems are masses for the dead; this one is so rarely done and yet exquisitely beautiful. It’s intimate, isolating, lonely, and tremendously sad. I feel so full of gratitude every time I hear it.”
Bill Anderson, host, “Bill’s Classical Jukebox”
“‘Abide With Me’. It was always a part of ceremonies in my secondary school.”
Kerry Stratton host, “The Oasis”
“Well, most of these pieces are hymns, because when I was a lad a Remembrance Day ceremony was a very serious thing. It was not unusual for people to break down because the war was still a very fresh wound. The hymn “O Valiant Hearts” always touched me as a boy. In those days it was not uncommon that your father had served, your uncles had served, and indeed your grandparents who were the vital ‘Zoomers’ of the early ‘50’s, had served in the first war.”
Kathleen Kajioka, host, “A Little Night Music”
“Dietrich Buxtehude’s Klaglied ‘Muss der Tod denn auch entbinden’ (‘Must death then unbind what nothing can unshackle’). While not specifically about war remembrance, this is my pick. It was written on the death of his father. The gambas pulsating beneath the simple yet exquisitely crafted melody make this one of the most poignant grieving arias I know.”
Michael Kramer, host, “Zero to 1800”
“What first came to mind was music from the war era – World War II – enjoyed by people while they were alive, as opposed to the more serious music to commemorate those who didn’t return. Big band music and sentimental tunes were in their heyday, such as my favourite, ‘We’ll Meet Again’ sung by Vera Lynn.”
Alexa Petrenko, host, “Sunday Night at the Opera”
“Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The original string quartet movement is commonly performed in Barber’s own orchestral arrangement; he later revised it for choir, a version I chose as I was a choir singer back in the day.”
To get an idea of the power of live performance leading up to Remembrance Day, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra will perform Britten’s War Requiem November 8 at 8:00 PM and November 10 at 8:00 PM, Roy Thomson Hall. The second date features a pre-concert performance by The TSO Chamber Soloists at 6:45 PM. Bramwell Tovey conducts a group of opera soloists, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and the Toronto Children’s Chorus.