Thursday, 21st November, 2013. Britten's War Requiem at Konzerthaus, Berlin.
Following many months of intense discussion between the NLC Committee and former NLC accompanist Helen Collyer, the Chorus had its first performance on foreign soil since June 1997, when it performed in Diepenbeek, Belgium with Cantores Servadie from Hasselt. It performed Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in the wonderfully ornate Konzerthaus in Berlin - reputed to have one of the best acoustics in Europe. The date chosen was November 21st - the eve of Britten's birthday. This performance fomed part of a Britten Festival in Berlin, and was the first time that the work has been performed in Germany as a partnership between an English and a German choir.
And what a performance it was, enthusiastically received by a capacity crowd of over 1,000 people.
Preparations began at the end of the summer term, with the Chorus getting to grips with this demanding piece. Then, starting the previous weekend, around 85 members of North London Chorus made their way to Berlin to rehearse and perform the piece jointly with the Cantus Domus choir of Berlin and the Konzerthausorchester under the direction of the choir's conductor Ralf Sochaczewsky, with NLC's Musical Director Murray Hipkin conducting the chamber orchestra and tenor and baritone soloists, who perform the settings of Wilfred Owen's war poetry that are interleaved with the requiem mass, which is sung by the augmented chorus, soprano soloist and boys' choir.
The pre-concert rehearsals were intensive but rewarding, and it was certainly worth it as the combined forces produced an electrifying performance which received almost 15 minutes of applause from the Berlin audience.
There is a review at: http://www.bachtrack.com/reviews/view/3718 and in German from one of the main daily papers at: http://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/kurz-und-kritisch-kurz-und-kritisch/9116818.html
Ralf Sochaczewsky has conducted several major international orchestras, across the world, including the London Philharmonic and Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra. He leads the Cantus Domus choir. With it he won Third Prize in the Eighth Choir Competition of the German Music Council in Dortmund. He also has a special interest in historical performance practice. As a baroque violinist and violist, he has played in ensembles such as Dresden's Baroque Orchestra, the Batzdorfer Court Orchestra and the Ensemble Sans Souci, Berlin. The soloists will include the British tenor Nicky Spence and German baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle - both well-respected international soloists.
NLC is looking forward to the return visit by Cantus Domus in July 2014, as well as a repeat performance of War Requiem in the UK which is being planned for May 2015.