• Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Spano takes Benjamin Britten's massive and moving War Requiem to Carnegie Hall. Britten, a staunch pacifist, wrote the piece in 1961 for the re-consecration of England's 14th-century Coventry Cathedral after it was bombed in World War II.
    Hide caption
    Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Spano takes Benjamin Britten's massive and moving War Requiem to Carnegie Hall. Britten, a staunch pacifist, wrote the piece in 1961 for the re-consecration of England's 14th-century Coventry Cathedral after it was bombed in World War II.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • Moments before the music begins, Robert Spano greets the Atlanta Symphony Concertmaster David Coucheron (left) and soloists, tenor Thomas Cooley and baritone Stephen Powell (right).
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    Moments before the music begins, Robert Spano greets the Atlanta Symphony Concertmaster David Coucheron (left) and soloists, tenor Thomas Cooley and baritone Stephen Powell (right).
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • With a full orchestra and 160-voice chorus, plus the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, every inch of Carnegie Hall's huge stage is filled.
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    With a full orchestra and 160-voice chorus, plus the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, every inch of Carnegie Hall's huge stage is filled.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • In this Requiem, Spano says "Britten invites us to contemplate, with him, both our humanity and our capacity for compassion and our need to grieve and mourn and honor our dead; along with the opportunity to self-scrutinize and to reflect on our capacity to be inhuman."
    Hide caption
    In this Requiem, Spano says "Britten invites us to contemplate, with him, both our humanity and our capacity for compassion and our need to grieve and mourn and honor our dead; along with the opportunity to self-scrutinize and to reflect on our capacity to be inhuman."
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, nurtured for so many years by ASO Music Director Robert Shaw, plays an important role in Britten's War Requiem, singing the words of the traditional Latin mass for the dead.
    Hide caption
    The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, nurtured for so many years by ASO Music Director Robert Shaw, plays an important role in Britten's War Requiem, singing the words of the traditional Latin mass for the dead.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • Choristers sing with the memory of Robert Shaw in mind, as he would have celebrated his 90th birthday on the day of this performance.
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    Choristers sing with the memory of Robert Shaw in mind, as he would have celebrated his 90th birthday on the day of this performance.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • Tenor Thomas Cooley, who sang evocatively with great clarity, was called upon to fill in with just 48 hours notice. He sings the clear-eyed poetry of Wilfred Owen, an English poet and soldier who died in World War I just a few days before the armistice.
    Hide caption
    Tenor Thomas Cooley, who sang evocatively with great clarity, was called upon to fill in with just 48 hours notice. He sings the clear-eyed poetry of Wilfred Owen, an English poet and soldier who died in World War I just a few days before the armistice.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • Baritone Stephen Powell also sings Owen's poetry. Much of the Requiem's power lies in the contrast between the old and impersonal language of the Latin mass and the shocking directness of Owen's non-sentimental English language poetry.
    Hide caption
    Baritone Stephen Powell also sings Owen's poetry. Much of the Requiem's power lies in the contrast between the old and impersonal language of the Latin mass and the shocking directness of Owen's non-sentimental English language poetry.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • Soprano Evelina Dobraceva also sings the music from the traditional Latin mass.
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    Soprano Evelina Dobraceva also sings the music from the traditional Latin mass.
    Melanie Burford /for NPR Music
  • Near the end of the Requiem the tenor and baritone voices intertwine. In Owen's poetry, two soldiers who were enemies in battle become friends in hell.
    Hide caption
    Near the end of the Requiem the tenor and baritone voices intertwine. In Owen's poetry, two soldiers who were enemies in battle become friends in hell.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music
  • Final bows taken after the ethereal ending to Britten's 80-minute War Requiem.
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    Final bows taken after the ethereal ending to Britten's 80-minute War Requiem.
    Melanie Burford/for NPR Music

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Classics in Concert

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra At Carnegie HallWQXR-FM

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Conductor Robert Spano leads the orchestra and chorus in Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, music written for the 1962 rededication of the cathedral in Coventry, England, destroyed in a 1940 air raid.

Editor's note on Oct. 29, 2015: The writing that initially appeared on this page has been removed because some unattributed words or phrases in it matched those in previously published sources. NPR cannot allow such work to stand. But a news organization should not hide its mistakes. We have moved the material that was on this page to another location, highlighted the words and phrases that were at issue and added links to show where the material was originally published. NPR's policy on plagiarism is clear: It is unacceptable.

Program

Britten: War Requiem

Evelina Dobračeva, soprano

Thomas Cooley, tenor

Stephen Powell, baritone

Brooklyn Youth Chorus

Robert Spano, conductor

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