Our new season Playing London is almost upon us and our first performance is on Tuesday 27 September, focusing on the themes of War and Peace. We’ll be performing alongside the hugely talented London Concert Choir, who celebrated 50 years of music making in 2010, in our first performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall this season.Haydn’s Mass in Time of War (1796), also known as the Kettledrum Mass because of the prominence of the timpani, was written at a time when Austria’s troops were struggling against the French in the European War that had followed the French Revolution. Austria feared invasion, and Haydn’s music reflects the troubled mood in its potent integration of references to battle. The work has an unsettled nature not usually associated with Haydn, making some believe that it was written with anti-war sentiment. However, there is no explicit message or clear indication of this intention and most of the mass is of a joyful nature, with the trumpet fanfares which brighten the words Dona nobis pacem (Give us peace) celebrate the hope for peace.
Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem (1936) is a cantata for soprano and baritone soloists, chorus and orchestra and was commissioned to mark the centenary of the Huddersfield Choral Society. Anti-war messages are conveyed through texts from various sources and the work combines Latin liturgical material (sometimes translated into English) with biblical texts, a political speech by John Bright, who tried to prevent the Crimean War, and three poems by Walt Whitman (American poet and humanist) which describe the carnage and tragedy of war using musical imagery of the drums and bugles.
Haydn Mass in Time of War
Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem
For a flavour of this concert listen to our Spotify playlist.London Concert Choir
Helen Meyerhoff soprano
Jeanette Ager mezzo-soprano
Nathan Vale tenor
Colin Campbell baritone
Mark Forkgen conductor
Tuesday 27 September, 7.30pm
Tickets: £10 – £30 (concessions available)