Teaching the horrors of war through music

This Thursday night, March 1st, the University of Minnesota School of Music commemorates the 50th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

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Conductor Mark Russell Smith

Britten wrote it for the reconsecration of England’s Coventry Cathedral, which was bombed by the Germans in World War Two.

MPR’s John Birge spoke with U of M conductor Mark Russell Smith about the performance which is the culmination of what’s being called the Britten Peace Project. The project brings together both American and German music students, and took U of M Music students to Germany to perform.

Smith says it’s providing students with a deeper understanding of the suffering, sacrifices and triumphs of their grandparents and great-grandparents.

It’s so much about the futility of war and even more so the human toll that war takes. It’s a different world now thank god, but it’s only a different world because we’ve lived through these things. So the greater their understanding – which they achieve through a project like this – it just enriches their lives.

The performance is part of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum’s Arts and Music Day.

You can learn more about the performance, and hear the rest of John Birge’s interview with Mark Russell Smith here.

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