Music To Die For
with the BBC Concert Orchestra
Friday 27 January 2012, 7.30pm
Queen Elizabeth Hall (Southbank Centre), Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
BBC Concert Orchestra
Jennifer Johnson mezzo-soprano
Ilona Domnich soprano
David Temple chorus master
Keith Lockhart conductor
John Hannah presenter
Death is the ultimate taboo: an absolute certainty for all – yet few of us like talking about it. The date. When the grim reaper will come knocking and calls out your name. But…
Death brings people together: John Tavener’s Song for Athene, written in memory of family friend Athene Harriadis, sets texts from Hamlet and the Russian Orthodox Funeral Service. It touched millions worldwide when featured at Princess Diana’s funeral. Likewise, Barber’s Adagio lent powerful intensity to the memorial service for President Kennedy.
Death is a journey: the ancient Latin Requiem Mass has inspired rich sound-worlds, giving us terrifying depictions of judgement, ecstatic visions of heaven – and serene acceptance of our inevitable fate… Fauré. Verdi. Mozart. Requiem’s (extracts).
Death is an end: Mahler was preoccupied by death when writing Das Lied von der Erde. The superstitious composer – knowing Beethoven’s 9th symphony had been his last – deliberately didn’t call this ‘vocal symphony’ his Ninth, fearing it would hasten his demise.
Death is a beginning: Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre takes a more playful view of death, depicting skeletons carousing in midnight graveyard revels – a medieval image fully in the spirit of life beyond one’s sell-by date!
Music To Die For: a heavenly mix of devilishly popular classics.
Part of Death: Southbank Centre’s Festival for the Living
How to get there
- Waterloo (Bakerloo, Northern, Jubilee and Waterloo and City lines). Embankment (Circle and District lines).