Queens College Presents Benjamin Britten’s Anit-War Masterpiece, ‘War Requiem, Op. 66,’ on May 20, Armed Forces Day

Over 300 Singers and Musicians Join Opera Soloists Including Internationally Renowned Soprano Ai-Lan Zhu in a Rare Performance of This Monumental Work

Internationally renowned soprano Ai-Lan Zhu, a native of Bejing who studied with the Central Conservatory of Music there, has performed as Madama Butterfly at the Royal Albert Hall in London and appeared with major opera companies throughout Europe and the U.S. She has also won several competitions and awards.

Paris-born baritone Peter Cataldi and American lyric tenor Kurt Alakulppi.

WHO: Queens College Choral Society, Choir, Chorus and Orchestra and The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, under the direction of Professor James John of the Aaron Copland School of Music.

WHAT: The only performance in New York this year of Benjamin Britten’s critically acclaimed anti-war masterpiece, “War Requiem, Op. 66.”

WHEN: Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 2006, 8:00 – 9:20 pm, performed without intermission.

WHERE: Colden Auditorium, Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing


Britten’s “War Requiem, Op. 66” premiered in 1962 at the dedication ceremonies of the new Cathedral of St. Michael in Coventry, England, a medieval-era church destroyed by bombs during World War II. Britten conceived “War Requiem” as a large-scale work divided into three distinct groups: a full chorus and orchestra with a soprano soloist; a separate chamber orchestra with a tenor and baritone soloist; and a children’s choir.

Britten’s work is unusual for its imaginative juxtaposition of the traditional Latin Requiem Mass with the war poetry of Wilfred Owen, a young British soldier-poet killed just days before the 1918 Armistice of World War I. Britten was a pacifist and conscientious objector to war, and he created “War Requiem” as a musical expression of his anti-war convictions. While “War Requiem” denounced the universal wickedness and senselessness of war and the involvement of organized religion, it also conveyed the importance of reconciliation and hope for all the nations of the world. It is significant that Britten wrote the piece for three specific soloists from Germany, Russia and Britain.

“War Requiem” has received critical acclaim and has been hailed as a masterpiece, setting the seal on Britten’s reputation as the dominant British composer of his time. The combination of English poetry with the familiar text of the Latin Mass for the Dead has made the work accessible to a larger audience. However, because the piece is such a massive musical undertaking, it is rarely performed.

Tickets are available at $18 and $16 and $5 for Queens College students. Orders may be placed by phone at 718-793-8080 or at the box office. Colden Auditorium is located on the Queens College campus between exits 23 and 24 of the eastbound service road of the LIE in Flushing. Free parking is available. For public transportation and additional directions, visit: http://www.qc.cuny.edu/about/directions.php

For more on Queens College visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/index.php

Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

Maria Matteo
News Assistant