THE 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War on Sunday has prompted York Musical Society’s programme for their November 17 concert in York Minster.

John Rutter’s Requiem and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, both scored for chorus, soloists and orchestra, will be accompanied by Samuel Barber’s haunting Adagio for Strings.

"Dona Nobis Pacem was commissioned by the Huddersfield Choral Society in 1936, so its premiere was in Yorkshire," says conductor David Pipe, whose chorus and orchestra will be joined by Huddersfield soprano Jenny Stafford and baritone Alistair Ollerenshaw.

"Vaughan Williams had already composed one section in 1911, a setting of poet Walt Whitman’s words 'Dirge for Two Veterans'. To this he added more settings of Whitman, an 'Agnus Dei' from the Latin Mass, optimistic verses from both the Old and New Testaments expressing hopes for peace and, most unusually, words from a Parliamentary speech by radical MP John Bright, attempting to dissuade colleagues from entering the Crimean War."

York Press:

Soprano soloist Jenny Stafford

Rutter is well known for his carols, but his Requiem, premiered in Dallas, Texas, in October 1985, is the best known of his longer works. "Rutter’s memorable tunes have made the Requiem popular with choral societies around the world and it's one of the most popular compositions of the last 40 years," says Pipe. "It's relatively short and appears simple, but that does not obscure Rutter’s rich choral writing." Stafford will be the soloist for this work too.

Barber’s Adagio for Strings originally was part of a string quartet composed in 1936."However, Arturo Toscanini urged Barber to take the second movement and arrange it for full string orchestra," says Pipe. "In 1938, Toscanini conducted the Adagio’s premiere, which was broadcast live on American radio, so had an audience of millions. It quickly became a huge success and has been used in many contexts besides the concert hall. The Adagio, a solemn and evocative piece, will be immediately recognisable to listeners."

Summing up York Musical Society's Give Us Peace programme, Pipe says: "This concert is just a few days after the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that brought an end to the fighting in World War One. We have chosen three pieces that reflect the darkness and anguish of war, but which also express a message of reassurance – perhaps of the sort felt by relieved survivors of the Great War when the Armistice was announced. These works have remained in the repertoire since they were written, and it is easy to understand why when you hear them."

Tickets are available at £10 to £20, with concessions available, on 01904 557200, at, in person from York Minster or on the door. Accompanied children aged under 12 have free entry.

York Press:

Ralph Vaughan Williams, pictured in 1954

Did you know?

In 1915, at the age of 43, Ralph Vaughan Williams enlisted as an ambulance driver, bringing the wounded from the front, including at the Third Battle of Ypres, in which hundreds of thousands on all sides were killed and wounded.

During this time, he formed a military chorus and spent the rest of his life teaching others to make music, as well as composing. Too old to serve in the Second World War, he helped refugees find shelter and work and staged free lunchtime concerts. His biographer, Simon Heffer, observed that Vaughan Williams drew his inspiration not from Britain, but from "the whole world going mad around him".