One hundred years ago, a battered and bruised world held its breath as the Allies and Germany signed the armistice to end the “war of all wars,” First World War on Nov. 11th, 1918.
That auspicious centenary has been commemorated all around the globe this past weekend, including military parades, religious and secular services, poignant tributes, speeches, poetry and poppy projects paying homage to the fallen, as well as all those still proudly serving their country.
The Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir added its own collective voice to the mix Sunday afternoon, launching its 96th season with Lest We Forget: 100 Years of Remembrance 1918-2018, a “journey of remembrance” featuring guest artists: Monica Huisman, soprano; Laurelle Jade Froese, mezzo-soprano; John Tessier, tenor; and Victor Engbrecht, bass with the Phil’s 90 choristers joined by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at the St. Boniface Cathedral.
The two-hour, sold-out concert led by maestro Yuri Klaz began with Samuel Barber’s sublime Adagio for Strings, that the American composer extracted from his String Quartet in B minor, Op. 11 and arranged string orchestra in 1936. It proved an ideal choice for an afternoon of contemplative gravitas, including its hushed opening where one molten phrase bleeds into the next, to its rise of shimmering close harmonies in the upper strings, before settling into a final quiet, albeit still-questioning close.