Music in London and Amsterdam

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Written by: Rick Phillips

“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Those words were spoken by the great 18th century English writer, poet and critic Samuel Johnson.

Rick Phillips lives and breathes classical music.  To say he is moved by the music is an impossible understatement.  Currently a busy reviewer and lecturer, Rick is the former host of CBC’s highly successful Sound Advice.  Often asked to name his favourite composer or work of music, he replies, “The one I’m listening to now.”

And on Remembrance Sunday, November 10th, Rick will be in London listening to his favourite composer of the moment while escorting a Worldwide Quest tour.  In his own words:

London is truly one of the world’s great cities, has been for centuries, and especially in the world of art, culture and music. Just as an example, where most great cities can claim one or maybe two symphony orchestras, London has five – the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and the Philharmonia Orchestra – all of them internationally renowned.

On the tour I will be leading this fall, we will be hearing three of the five, one of them being the excellent BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, in a special concert, sponsored in part by the Royal British Legion, taking place on Remembrance Sunday, Nov. 10. The great English composer Benjamin Britten was born 100 years ago in November and the English are deservedly pulling out the red carpet to honour this native son. One of Britten’s masterpieces is the War Requiem – a large-scale work for soloists, choir and orchestra based on the text of the ancient Requiem Mass combined with the war poetry of the W.W.I English poet Wilfred Owen.

Britten was a lifelong pacifist – a conscientious objector during W.W.II – who composed the work for the 1962 consecration of the re-built Coventry Cathedral that had been destroyed during the war. The result is a powerful, unforgettable musical experience for all time – as relevant today as in 1962 – a moving, gripping piece of music that remembers and honours those killed in battle, as well as warning of the stupidity and waste of war everywhere, while remaining hopeful for the future.

We’ll hear the War Requiem performed in the famous Royal Albert Hall in downtown London – a London landmark closely associated with war and remembrance for almost a century. This iconic concert venue, seating over 5000, dates back to Queen Victoria’s days – named after her husband and consort, Prince Albert. Apparently at the opening in 1871, Queen Victoria was too overcome with the memory of her recently-deceased husband to speak at the ceremonies. During W.W.II and the Battle of Britain, the hall was damaged by Nazi bombers, who used it as a London landmark to better aim their bombs at London targets. Royal Albert Hall has always been one of London’s most treasured and distinctive buildings, hosting some 350 events annually – from classical concerts, ballet and opera, to rock and pop music, graduation ceremonies, sports – even Canada’s own Cirque du Soleil. For 72 consecutive summers, the hall has been the popular home of the annual “Proms” concerts, sometimes described as the world’s largest and most successful music festival.

As a fitting complement to the performance, we will visit St. Paul’s Cathedral for the morning Remembrance Sunday Sung Eucharist along with an afternoon trip to the recently-re-opened Imperial War Museum.

Join the former Host and Producer of CBC’s SOUND ADVICE, Rick Phillips for 9 musical days in London and Amsterdam.

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