EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Conductor Gianandrea Noseda
Gianandrea Noseda leads the London Symphony Orchestra
in a performance of Benjamin Britten’s majestic War Requiem,
on Sunday, October 23, at Avery Fisher Hall--
part of Lincoln Center's White Light Festival
ONLY IN ITS second year, Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival has already become a New York classic—the kind of smartly-curated, beyond-pop-and-classical musical event that discerning New Yorkers immediately latch onto. Created to promote the “exploration of music’s power to illuminate our interior lives,” featuring artists raging from the Tallis Scholars to Sigur Ros, the Festival has attracted both music-lovers and spiritual seekers, to events that often feel as highly charged as an audience with the Dalai Lama.
Under the imaginative and soulful direction of Artistic Director Jane Moss, the Festival this year promises further insights. Included are a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra; a Bach tribute by Gidon Kremer; a recital by organist Olivier Latry, an esteemed interpreter of Messiaen, on the recently restored Kuhn organ in Alice Tully Hall; Utopia, a program focusing on the magnificent flowering of Renaissance polyphony with works by lesser-known composers; and much more. (For details, see the White Light Festival website.)
A thought from Artistic Director Moss provides a hint about why the Festival has become so popular:
“In our technology-driven and distracted world, authentic encounters with one’s interior self and its inherent potential are increasingly infrequent. Throughout human history remarkable works of music and art have helped show us the extraordinary dimensions of human experience and life that lie within all of us—if only we pause in our rush to the finish line and turn our gaze inward.”
One of the highlights of this year’s White Light Festival is a performance of Benjamin Britten’s majestic War Requiem, on Sunday, October 23, at Avery Fisher Hall. Gianandrea Noseda, Conductor Laureate of the BBC Philharmonic, will lead the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of the work, which combines sections of the Latin Mass with poems by Wilfred Owen. (The Requiem was was first performed for the rededication of Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed by bombing in World War II.) The soloists at Fisher Hall are Sabina Cvilak, soprano; Ian Bostridge, tenor; and Simon Keenlyside, baritone.
To learn a bit more about this upcoming performance, we asked Gianandrea Noseda about this great work of Benjamin Britten.
CLASSICAL TV: Maestro Noseda, why were you eager to conduct the Britten War Requiem? What makes the work so special for you, and what makes it such an important part of the repertoire?
GIANANDREA NOSEDA: The Britten War Requiem is one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. The Latin text of the Requiem Mass, interspersed with the Owen’s poems, which serve as a commentary, gives Britten the possibility to create a unique structure combining high-voltage drama with intimate meditation about death. It’s a moving spiritual journey, more than a religious one.
CTV: Do you approach this requiem differently from other, more standard requiems, because it’s based less on the liturgy of the mass and more on humanistic poetry?
GN: I approached this work in a slightly operatic way. I tried to emphasize the differences underlining the sudden changes of moods.
CTV: Are there special challenges or pleasures in “staging” this work, given the many musical forces involved?
GN: The challenge in “staging” it is basically finding out the way to organize it. You have to work separately with all the forces involved in the piece-- soloists, chamber orchestra, main orchestra, Chorus, children choir-- and then put everything together in a second step.
CTV: Regarding the messages conveyed by this great work, can you tell us about some of the resonances you hear between Owen’s world of “The Great War” and the world we live in now?
GN: The War Requiem is one of those pieces that will speak in a hundred years’ time with the same power and intensity as it does now and did at the time when it was written. It’s truly a masterpiece.
CTV: Britten produced such a vast and varied body of work—from the solo cello suites and canticles to this Requiem and the well-known operas. Can you say a few words about Britten’s position among great composers-- his legacy, his influence, and his continuing ability to speak to us?
GN: I consider Britten one of the great composers of the 20th century. His honesty as a musician and as a man is highly valuable for me.
Below: Benjamin Britten, at right, with tenor Peter Pears
FOR MORE INFORMATION
• Learn more about the White Light Festival
• Read Classical TV’s exclusive interview with Artistic Director Jane Moss
• See a clip of a recent performance in Turin of Maestro Noseda conducting Mahler's 8th Symphony
• Learn more about conductor Gianandrea Noseda
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