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Decca Records' Quest to Reunite Original Choir from Britten's War Requiem Recording

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BNN Correspondents
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Decca Records' Quest to Reunite Original Choir from Britten's War Requiem Recording

Decca Records has embarked on a unique endeavor to reunite the original members of the Highgate School boys' choir who performed in the iconic recording of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in 1963. The record label's initiative precedes the release of a meticulously restored version of the piece, six decades after the original recording.

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Reviving a Masterpiece

The War Requiem, a profound blend of traditional Latin Requiem Mass and the heartrending verses of World War I poet Wilfred Owen, quickly resonated with audiences worldwide, selling 200,000 copies within five months of its May 1963 release. The recording session took place at the historic Kingsway Hall in Holborn, a cultural landmark that was sadly razed in 1998.

A Call to the Original Choir

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In its quest to honor the past, Decca Records is now reaching out to the original choristers, now septuagenarians, inviting them to a special listening session of the restored masterpiece at Decca's London offices. The original album, celebrated for its powerful rendition of British music, won two Grammy Awards, further cementing its place in the annals of music history.

Remembering the Legends

Adding to the original recording's brilliance was the voice of famed Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, who passed away in 2012. Also contributing to the choir was composer John Rutter, who reflected on the enduring relevance of the recording, suggesting that its lessons could still be gleaned and appreciated even a century later.

An Ensemble of Excellence

Complementing the Highgate School choir, the recording also featured members from the Bach Choir, the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Chorus, and the Melos Ensemble. The War Requiem stands as a testament to the lasting legacy of Britten, a revered composer who passed away in 1976 at the age of 63. The release of the restored recording aims to honor both Britten's memory and the contributions of the original performers, reminding us of a time when music served as a balm in a world reeling from the wounds of war.

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