November 2018 marks one hundred years since the end of the First World War. For our first concert this season, Tonbridge Philharmonic Society is marking this significant anniversary with a performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem on 24th November. Britten was a lifelong pacifist who created themes of conflict and resolution in this music. He then added the searing words of the poet Wilfred Owen, who died just one week before the Armistice in 1918, using nine of his poems mingled with the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead. This magnificent combination was created for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, built beside the 14th century structure that had been bombed to ruins in the Second World War. Audiences and critics alike hailed it as a contemporary masterpiece, and we hope it will be a poignant farewell to our Music Director of four years, Matthew Willis.
Our first orchestral concert of 2019 features a great 20th century English favourite, Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Written one hundred years ago, in the aftermath of the First World War it is an impassioned work, evocative of the spirit of the time. The concerto will be followed by Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2. Premiered in 1908, it is a work firmly rooted in the late Romantic tradition.
In March 2019, we will join with our friends from Evangelische Kantorei Heusenstamm to perform Ein Deutsches Requiem by Brahms. Our second requiem of the season, the work was written after the death of the composer’s mother in 1865, and was later described by him as a ‘human requiem’. Written in six movements for baritone, chorus and orchestra with texts from the Lutheran bible, this Requiem had its premiere in 1868. Brahms later added a seventh movement, with the words “I will comfort you as one whom his own mother comforteth.”
In May, we welcome our new Music Director, Mark Biggins, with a return to Russian Romanticism and a programme featuring Rimsky-Korsakov’s Symphonic Poem Sadko, written in 1867 and based on a Russian epic folk poem. This paves the way for a performance of our second big Russian Romantic symphony of the season – Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.5.