UMD Concert Choir Joins BSO Onstage for Britten’s War Requiem: Monumental Work Celebrates Composer’s 100th Birthday and Honors Veterans

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CONTACT: Missy McTamney

CONTACT: Sarah Snyder

College Park, MD—The University of Maryland (UMD) School of Music’s Concert Choir will join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in three performances of Benjamin Britten’s profound and deeply affecting anti-war masterpiece, The War Requiem on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 8 pm and Friday, November 15, 2013 at 8 pm in the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 8 pm at the Music Center at Strathmore.

The performances celebrate the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth on November 22, 1913.  The combined force of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra plus two choirs and three soloists will deliver Britten’s powerful masterwork that lends humanity to anti-war sentiment and remembers the fallen. “We are honored to be part of a performance so meaningful and moving,” said Edward Maclary, director of Choral Activities at UMD. “It is a privilege to share the stage with the BSO for the centerpiece of their 2013-2014 season.”

About the UMD School of Music Concert Choir

The Concert Choir is comprised of 120 singers from the choral ensemble program. Since 2003 they have collaborated regularly with the National Symphony Orchestra in repertoire such as the Bach St. Matthew PassionMass in B minor and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and have served as their chorus for Handel’s Messiah five times. The ensemble has appeared under the direction of maestros such as Christoph Eschenbach, Helmuth Rilling and Iván Fischer.

Under Maclary’s direction, the Concert Choir has established an international reputation for excellence in performance.  In 2011, they were awarded the Premier Prix for Mixed Choirs and the Prix Ronsard for Renaissance singing at the Florilège Vocal de Tours in France.

About The War Requiem

The War Requiem is considered Britten’s magnum opus and one of the 20th century’s defining works.  Written for the re-consecration of Coventry Cathedral after it was destroyed during the Battle of Britain in World War II, it was first performed there on May 30, 1962, next to the ruins of the original millennium-old structure.

The composition is a public statement of Britten's life-long anti-war conviction and a warning on the senselessness of warfare.  He composed with three specific soloists in mind -- a German baritone (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau), a Russian soprano (Galina Vishnevskaya), and a British tenor (Peter Pears) – to demonstrate a commitment to peace and compassion for those nations devastated by war.

The War Requiem combines the Latin Mass for the Dead with the poetry of one of World War I’s greatest poets, Wilfred Owen. Owen was killed just days prior to the end of the war, underscoring Britten’s message about the waste of human life in conflict.  Owen wrote “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The poetry is in the pity...All a poet can do today is warn.”

Other Britten Anniversary Events at Clarice Smith Center

  • Faculty Artist Recital, Linda Mabbs Remembers Benjamin Britten, Thursday, November 21 at 8pm.  Faculty artist Linda Mabbs, who knew Britten during the last year of his life will share stories about the composer and perform his works for soprano.
  • The Maryland Opera Studio presents Britten’s rollicking comedy, Albert Herring, November 22 – 26 at 7:30pm and 3pm.  Set in an English village, the imperious Lady Billows strikes a blow against immorality and changes the life of young Albert Herring.


Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, the School of Music is a dynamic arts community committed to cultivating and transforming musical traditions and preparing students for meaningful engagement with their art, their culture and the world community.  The School of Music, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library share a space within the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a premier presenting arts venue and collaborative laboratory for professional artists, teachers and students, serving the university and community.