The National Arts Centre Orchestra, normally at home in Ottawa, toured the UK this fall to mark the centenary of the start of WW1. Their concerts and educational events explored the themes of remembrance and healing through music. A highlight was the concert in Salisbury Cathedral. Not only a beautiful setting … the Cathedral is a significant setting to mark Canada’s role in the war. The Canadian Expeditionary Force was stationed on Salisbury Plain before heading to the Western Front.
Last month, I was privileged to see the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra at its spectacular concert hall in Amsterdam. The concert was part of 1914 One-Hundred Years Later, a festival of music and art. The program spanned the century, from composers at work around the war years to a new violin concerto by Michel van der Aa. One word … inspiring!
From the orchestra’s website:
One hundred years ago, the First World War was raging. How did composers respond to such unprecedented destruction? Debussy composed the Berceuse héroïque as a tribute to the Belgian soldier–king Albert I. Stravinsky wrote his Symphonies d’instruments à vent in memory of Debussy, who had died in 1918. The Russian composer Anatoly Lyadov died in 1914. His From the Apocalypse was inspired by an excerpt from the Revelation of St John the Divine. A year later, Leoš Janáček would start work on his imposing rhapsody Taras Bulba, based on Nikolai Gogol’s historical novel of the same name. Janáček saw in the heroic Cossack Taras Bulba a model for how the Czechs could cast off the yoke of Austrian oppression.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all.