BBC revives John Foulds'
A World Requiem for Armistice Day
Sunday 11 November 2007, 6.30pm
Royal Albert Hall, BBC Radio 3
After 81 years, John Foulds' heartfelt memorial to the dead of all nations A World Requiem, once the centrepiece of the Royal British Legion's original Festivals of Remembrance, will be given a spectacular resurrection by huge BBC forces, a glittering roster of soloists and the combined power of four choirs at the Royal Albert Hall on Armistice Day.
For four consecutive years in the Twenties, Armistice Day was marked by performances of this 90-minute work in the Royal Albert Hall, under the patronage of the Royal British Legion. It was enormously popular with audiences and reflects upon the terrible loss caused by the Great War.
The performance brought Foulds such critical acclaim when it was premiered in 1923 that his widow, Maud MacCarthy, was able to publish a book devoted to the positive responses to the work.
After 1926, A World Requiem vanished from the concert platform. Perhaps the forces required were simply too vast (it calls for 1,250 musicians, including off-stage fanfares, massed choirs and an organ).
Perhaps Foulds' personal life was too irregular, his left-wing views too non-establishment, his reputation as a serious composer undermined by his lighter music – or it may simply be that his music went of fashion.
He died an outsider in 1939, succumbing to cholera in his beloved India and has been forgotten for more than half a century. Now, though, with some high profile concerts and recordings, Foulds is becoming recognised as an unsung composer of real importance.
The performance of A World Requiem is a significant moment in the recent revival of interest in his work.
Roger Wright, Controller of BBC Radio 3, says: "When I first heard the music of Foulds, learned about A World Requiem and read the score I was intrigued by it and have longed to hear it.
"So I am delighted that the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Radio 3 are mounting this performance in the work's original home and on such an appropriate day. Now at last we will have a chance to assess in performance an intriguing work which has a special place in British musical and social history."
The BBC Symphony Orchestra is joined by an impressive line-up of performers: soloists include Catherine Wyn-Rogers, Gerald Finley and Stuart Skelton and the BBC Symphony Chorus is joined by the Crouch End Festival Chorus, Philharmonia Chorus and Trinity Boys' Choir and conducted by Leon Botstein.
This concert will be broadcast live on Radio 3.
Sunday 11 November 2007
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Leon Botstein; Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet (soprano); Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano); Stuart Skelton (tenor); Gerald Finley (baritone); BBC Symphony Chorus; Crouch End Festival Chorus; Philharmonia Chorus; Trinity Boys' Choir.
How to book
Call the Royal Albert Hall box office on 020 7589 8212 or go to www.royalalberthall.com.
Prices range from £6 to £27.50.
Malcolm MacDonald, a leading expert in the work of John Foulds, gives a pre-concert talk at 5pm, Great Hall, Imperial College (Sherfield Building, Imperial College Road, London SW7). Free to ticket holders for the evening concert.
The BBC Symphony Orchestra presents the concert in association with The Royal British Legion.