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A Mass for Modernity

The U.S. Premiere of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem

Benjamin Britten's haunting War Requiem premiered in England on May 30, 1962, at the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, built to replace the original that had been destroyed during the bombings of World War II. But North American audiences heard Britten's work first on July 27, 1963, at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. Erich Leinsdorf conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra, with soloists Phyllis Curtin, Nicolas di Virgilio and Tom Krause, Chorus pro Musica, and the Columbus Boychoir.

Performers stand on stage after a performance

Soloists Phyllis Curtin, Nicolas di Virgilio, and Tom Krause stand for applause with Chorus Pro Musica Director Alfred Nash Patterson and BSO Music Director Erich Leinsdorf. (Whitestone Photo/Heinz Weissenstein)

Excerpt from "Libera Me," featuring tenor Nicolas di Virgilio, bass Tom Krause, soprano Phyllis Curtin, the Columbus Boychoir, and Chorus pro Musica, with Erich Leinsdorf conducting the BSO. The performance was filmed by WGBH Channel 2 and telecast live.