War Requiem Remembrance Sunday 2014
Our duty with these commemorations is clear - to honour those who served, to remember those who died and to ensure that the lessons learned live with us forever. And that is exactly what we will do.
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
11th October 2012
The year 2014 marked 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War - the ‘war to end all wars’ that claimed the lives of over 16 million people across the globe. One hundred years on, many still feel connected to the First World War because of its long term impact on society and the world we live in today. Thus, on Remembrance Sunday, 9th November 2014, The Lady R Foundation, in collaboration with the Royal Choral Society, organised a unique performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at London’s Royal Albert Hall. A work steeped with themes of the pity of war, sacrifice and remembrance, yet also a beautiful expression of internationalism, hope and reconciliation, it was a hugely poignant way to remember and give thanks for the sacrifices of so many.
We were honoured to have the full support of HRH The Prince of Wales, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff and Mr Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
The concert was attended by TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and HRH the Duke of Kent, as well as The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Admiral Sir George Zambellas, The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.
The concert was introduced by Miss Angela Rippon and we were delighted to have the top British bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, Russian soprano Evelina Dobračeva and German tenor Stephan Rügamer in keeping with Britten’s plan to use soloists both sides of the war for its premier in 1962. It demonstrated his acute awareness that the loss and suffering felt by his own country was shared by all protagonists and a message of reconciliation between all warring nations runs throughout the piece. They were accompanied by the world renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra, along with the Trinity Boys choir who sung angelically from the very top of the Hall. This stunning performance was conducted by Richard Cooke, director of the Royal Choral Society.
The concert was one of the nation’s major First World War acts of commemoration in 2014 and received glowing reviews. David Mellor in the Mail on Sunday gave it 5 stars stating that ‘by a country mile…. my most moving memory of 2014 is sitting in a packed Royal Albert Hall listening to Britten’s War Requiem, and marvelling at how well this gay pacifist outsider had caught the national mood of sorrow, dignity in suffering and reconciliation.’
Most importantly the concert was staged entirely in support of Veterans Aid, a remarkable charity which was founded just after the First World War and continues its vital work to help British and Commonwealth ex-servicemen and women in crisis and of which Lady Rothermere is Patron.