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Tragedy, triumph, and renunciation

Concert blends passion, a twenty-first century masterpiece and one of Haydn’s most popular choral works

On Sunday March 2nd in the University Concert Hall West Road, The Cambridge Philharmonic Society will perform Haydn’s glorious Nelson Mass. Written shortly after Nelson’s triumph at the Battle of the Nile it did not get its name until after the admiral’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and ever since it has been a favourite with audiences and performers alike.

Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem shows one of England’s greatest composers at the peak of his powers. Written in 1940 at the request of the Japanese government, the work created a diplomatic incident because Britten used three elements of the Requiem mass as movements for his symphony (there are no voices, however), something which really upset the work’s commissioners. But with incredible prescience the Sinfonia da Requiem, written ostensibly ‘in memory of my mother and father’, stands as an emotionally powerful protest against the pity of war, past and future – from the pen of a profound pacifist.

Jonathan Dove’s Hojoki has Japanese origins too – in this case the heartfelt response of a 12th-century poet’s response to the destruction of Kyoto through fire, whirlwind, famine and earthquake, and his subsequent renunciation of the world. Written for solo voice and orchestra, this is a poignant, uplifting triumph of magical musical effects, and in counter-tenor Andrew Watts – who has established himself as one of the great vocal interpreters of the age – it finds a truly wonderful interpreter. ‘Dove's talent has long been for painting vivid pictures with his music’ wrote Erica Jeal in the Guardian at the work’s premiere in 2006, ‘and in Hojoki he excels himself.’

So come along for Britten, Dove and Haydn – serious, beautiful music conducted with passion and commitment by Tim Redmond, the society’s charismatic and innovative music director, renowned for his inspirational programming and his mesmerizing stage presence.

The concert starts at 7.30 pm. Tickets cost £12 (£6 for children and students on the door) from the Cambridge Arts Theatre Box Office (01223 503333), online at www.cam-phil.org.uk, or on the door.

Notes for editors

Cambridge Philharmonic, founded in 1887, is one of Britain’s oldest and most distinguished music societies. With a full symphony orchestra and a large chorus, the Cambridge Philharmonic presents an annual concert series in King’s College Chapel, Ely Cathedral and the West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge.

Cambridge Philharmonic works with an enviable roster of soloists, including in recent seasons, instrumentalists such as Natalie Clein, Alison Balsom, Mark Simpson and Martin Roscoe and singers Joan Rodgers, Emma Bell, Roderick Williams and Jacques Imbrailo. This has been a long tradition of the Philharmonic and in previous decades, artists including Philip Langridge, Peter Pears, Philip Jones and Kathleen Ferrier all performed with the society. Principal and guest conductors have included Sir David Willcocks, Stephen Cleobury, Raymond Leppard and Thomas Adès.

Under their current principal conductor and music director, Timothy Redmond, the Cambridge Philharmonic has developed and expanded its repertoire to include annual opera performances, family concerts and a focus on contemporary music. Critically-acclaimed performances of repertoire as diverse as Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Bernstein’s Candide, Verdi’s La Traviata and Mahler’s Second Symphony have given the Cambridge Philharmonic a profile that extends far beyond its home town.

In addition to its regular performances in the UK, the Cambridge Philharmonic has appeared at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and Prague’s Rudolfinum Concert Hall. The Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra reached an even wider audience when they recorded Ryan Teague’s album Coins and Crosses, which has been featured on BBC radio and TV and heard on radio stations worldwide.

For more information please contact Anne Sales at info@cam-phil.org.uk or call Jo Riches at Spirus on 01638 741830.