War and Peace – a concert to commemorate the Armistice Centenary.

On 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will perform a concert for Remembrance weekend at The Apex, opening with Benjamin Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury, followed by Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem, and concluding, after the interval, with Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. [see previous blog]

Britten’s Fanfare for St Edmundsbury was composed in 1959 for the Pageant of Magna Carta in the grounds of the cathedral. It’s less than three minutes long, for three trumpets, which each play a short solo and then come together for an emphatic and thrilling finale. Because it is so short it is rarely performed, but its evocation of the Last Post, through the clarity of its trumpets, fits our theme beautifully.

Maurice Duruflé
Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem began as an organ mass during World War II, but after the death of his father, to whom it is dedicated, he changed it to a requiem mass, and it was published in 1947.

Duruflé belongs to the tradition of French organist composers such as Widor and Vierne. He studied with Vierne at the Paris Conservatoire, and was his assistant at Notre Dame before becoming organist at St Etienne-du-Mont, one of Paris’s major parish churches, in 1930 - a position Duruflé held until his death in 1986.

Duruflé was celebrated as a virtuoso recital organist – for example, he gave the première of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto in 1939 – and noted for his skills as an improviser.

As a composer he was critical about his own compositions, publishing a few finely crafted works mainly for organ or choir, the longest and most famous of which is the Requiem. He wrote ‘I am incapable of adding anything to the piano repertoire, view the string quartet with apprehension and envisage with terror the idea of composing a song after the finished examples of Schubert, Fauré and Debussy.’

These composers, along with Ravel, were Duruflé’s main influences, and the Requiem, with melodies inspired by Gregorian chant to which the composer added his own luxuriant harmonies, evokes feelings of rest and peace, rather than the dramatic visions of hell and damnation inspired by other requiems. In a programme note written towards the end of his life, Duruflé commented that his Requiem ‘represents the idea of peace, of faith, and of hope’: very appropriate for a concert for Remembrance.

At the performance on 10 November the Bury Bach Choir will be joined by our co-President, Valerie Reid (mezzo soprano), soprano Camilla Jeppeson, baritone Tom Asher and the Prometheus Orchestra.

For tickets (priced at £25, £20 and £15) go to www.burybachchoir.co.uk or click here.


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