The Penthos Project
It all started when…
Hannah Stone and Matthew Oglesby approached St Peter's Singers, of which they are members, with their idea to write a Requiem around the idea of Penthos in time for the 2018 centenary commemorations of the Armistice that marked the end of the Great War.
The idea quickly developed into a project which in addition to staging the first performance would:
- bring the work to as wide an audience as possible by performing extracts at Leeds Light Night and at other Commemoration events around Leeds.
- leave as legacy a performing edition to facilitate further performances
- provide as much information as possible to engage the public and deepen their interest in the Requiem and the ideas behind it.
It was an early and deliberate choice to combine the first performance of Penthos with music by German composers, in order to provide a pan-European, even globalised context for Penthos.
Rudolf Mauersberger's Wie liegt die Stadt so wust ('How desolate lies the city') was written in the aftermath of the Allied firebombing of Dresden in February 1945, a revenge attack on the holiday of Carnival, which amongst untold destruction left eleven of his own choristers dead. Set to words from the Lamentations of Jeremiah as he surveyed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, it expresses his deep grief, the grief of 'Rachel weeping for her children', and recalls for us the destruction wrought by war on all sides. It is popular with German choirs but rarely sung in the UK, and was proposed by a German member of St Peter's Singers.
Beethoven's Mass in C , like Matthew's an early work, was chosen for its symbolism as a product of a culture shared by Britain and Germany, and because, with its inspired return to the penitential music of the Kyrie ('Lord, have mercy') for the final words Dona nobis pacem ('Grant us peace'), it seems to capture the spirit of penthos.