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Hundreds of musicians to perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at Walthamstow Assembly Hall

20 Sep Hundreds of musicians to perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at Walthamstow Assembly Hall

Nearly 300 singers and musicians will perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem at Walthamstow Assembly Hall on Saturday November 17 to commemorate the World War I Armistice 100 years ago.

It will be a joint venture between South West Essex Choir (SWEC), London Forest Choir (LFC), and Forest Philharmonic Orchestra, together with children from Chingford Parish Church and Waltham Forest schools.

Benjamin Britten, a staunch pacifist, composed the Requiem to celebrate the opening in 1962 of the new Coventry Cathedral, which replaced the previous building destroyed by bombs in World War II. In memory of the war dead, Britten combined a requiem mass with poems written by the renowned WWI war poet Wilfred Owen. Owen, a soldier, was killed in action just a few days before the Armistice and vividly described the horrors of the trenches and gas warfare. The result is a moving and powerful outcry against man’s inhumanity to man.

LFC’s musical director Jonathan Rathbone will conduct the full chorus and orchestra, while SWEC’s musical director Andrew Sackett will conduct a smaller orchestra accompanying two male soloists. Michael Emerson, director of music at Chingford Parish Church, will conduct the children’s choir in singing the poems accompanied by a chamber organ.

Jonathan is a composer and arranger who has worked with many of the world’s leading musicians. A former Swingle Singer, he has orchestrated for King’s College Choir, Cambridge, the Kings Singers and Lesley Garrett, among others. He often travels across Europe working with vocal ensembles and judging choral compositions.

Andrew Sackett held organist’s posts at Carlisle Cathedral and Tewkesbury Abbey then spent eight years travelling the world as musical director for Holland America Cruise Line. Currently he is music director of the Frankie Valli show “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and assistant director of music at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. He also conducts city firm choirs.

The professional soloists will be Cheryl Enever, soprano, Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks, tenor, and Quentin Hayes, baritone, all of whom are acclaimed for their concert and operatic work.

Both SWEC and LFC are large, long-established, local amateur choirs with reputations for performing varied repertoires to high standards. Likewise Forest Philharmonic, founded in 1964, is a full-size symphony orchestra of around 80 musicians, renowned for its high quality performances.

The concert will be the finale to local commemorations of the 1918 Armistice and will be a prelude to London Borough of Waltham Forest’s programme as first London Borough of Culture 2019. There will be an accompanying exhibition about WWI, curated by the Western Front Association. A talk on November 14 will link WWI with current conflicts and their impact on children.

Tickets in advance £14-18; on the door £16-20; concessions (students and benefit recipients) £8 -£10. Children £3. Available from www.ticketsource/london-forest-choir-and-south-west-essex-choir Tel 07845 156494. More information from and