Press Releast March 16, 2016


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Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra Presents Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem

June concerts will cap year-long celebration of 50th anniversary of unique Bay Area institution 

Berkeley, Calif. – The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) will bring Benjamin Britten’s monumental War Requiem to Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley in its concert series in early June.

Under the direction of BCCO Music Director Ming Luke, the 220-singer chorus will present three performances of this choral masterwork at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus on Friday, June 3, at 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, June 4, at 4:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 5, at 4:00 p.m.  All BCCO concerts are free and open to the public; donations are gratefully accepted.

The performances of Britten’s War Requiem will be the culmination of a year-long celebration of BCCO’s 50th anniversary.  “The War Requiem is a searing, intensely powerful work, composed to mark the 1962 consecration of the rebuilt cathedral in Coventry, England, which had been destroyed by World War II bombs,” Luke commented.

“Britten's War Requiem is a strong declaration of the composer’s antiwar sentiments and is an immense undertaking for any organization, but one that brings incredible rewards. Interspersing the poetry of the World War I poet and soldier Wilfred Owen with the traditional text of the Latin Requiem Mass, Britten creates a masterpiece that has strong emotional potency, the first time listening to it or the fiftieth,” Luke said.

The work is conceived on a grand scale, and calls for two separate orchestras (one full and one chamber), a large chorus, a children’s chorus, an organ, and three vocal soloists.  BCCO’s production of the Requiem will feature three well-known soloists – baritone Efrain Solis, soprano Carrie Hennessey, and tenor Brian Thorsett.

The Britten concert series will cap a year-long celebration of BCCO’s 50th anniversary featuring a number of public events, including a lecture series about Britten’s life and work and poetry readings at the Berkeley Public Library.  These events follow earlier presentations of: the inaugural performance of a work by composer Kurt Erickson commissioned for the chorus; a community sing of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols on November 8, 2015; and a January 2016 concert series honoring BCCO’s three music directors, featuring music from the past 50 years and special guest performances.

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The Pity of War Press release »

The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra is a no-audition community chorus dedicated to performing major classical works with orchestral accompaniment, free to the public. In 2016 it will celebrate its fiftieth year of performance. Ming Luke joined BCCO in 2011, becoming only the third music director to lead BCCO since its inception.  Widely recognized for his innovative music education programs, Luke has performed more than 120 educational concerts with the Berkeley Symphony, for which he is associate conductor. He frequently conducts for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and has worked with ensembles across the United States, UK, Russia, France, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary and Austria.