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The celebrated German composer Torsten Rasch, the historic Three Choirs Festival and Britain’s world-famous Philharmonia Orchestra presented a major 40-minute work for choir, soloists and orchestra that set the poetry of the First World War to music. Commissioned jointly by the Three Choirs Festival and Germany’s Chemnitz Opera, where it was also performed, A Foreign Field featured singers from both companies.
The powerful libretto was inspired by writers including the Dymock Poets – the group including Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke and Robert Frost that wrote, read and walked together in the Gloucestershire countryside before the war interrupted – and their Austro-German contemporaries Georg Trakl and Rainer Marie Rilke. Brought together in music, their words form an impassioned, moving memorial to the suffering endured on both sides.
At the heart of the choral piece are extracts from the writings of Edward Thomas to his wife. Thomas was killed on the Western Front in 1917.
A Foreign Field was performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra and conducted by Baldur Brönnimann. The programme also featured Elgar’s The Spirit of England and Vaughan Williams’ much-loved The Lark Ascending.
On 19 September 2014 the concert was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from the Three Choirs Festival.
Commissioned by public subscription for the Three Choirs Festival 2014 and StädtischeTheater Chemnitz, Erich-Schellhorn-Stiftung as part of 14-18 NOW. This performance kindly supported by the Elmley Foundation and Anwen Walker. Choristers supported by Lee Bolton Monier-Williams.