‘War Requiem’ by Lark Musical Society


“An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Dr. Martin Luther King once said. It’s a sentiment that carries over into other spheres, sometimes unexpectedly. War, for example. For English composer Benjamin Britten, who was a dogged and lifelong pacifist, the fact that war, especially in the 20th century, made victims of civilians on either side of combat – incinerated through fire bombing, exterminated by ethnic cleansing, maimed by bombing raids – led him to believe that ultimately there were no such things as “good wars.”

It’s a belief that reaches its apotheosis in his “War Requiem,” which will be performed this Saturday, March 4 by the Lark Musical Society in Pasadena under the direction of Vatsche Barsoumian.

For Andy Torosyan, chairman of Lark, it’s a work that has seen its relevance and power to speak for those victims become all the more vital. These victims today, in Syria and in Artsakh, as Torosyan reminded, suffer still.

“The team at Lark Musical Society and the Armenian Missionary Association of America wanted to bring attention to the state of affairs in the Middle East and Armenia,” he said. “Innocent lives continue to be lost – and for what nobody knows.”

He called the “War Requiem” one of the “grandest masterpieces of the 20th century.” The power of this score emerges, he continued, not because it was written as a cry for war. Instead it was as a plea for peace.

“It asks people to reflect on the horror and rampage that is born from war,” he said. “Our wish is that the sounds of the ‘War Requiem’ will bring everlasting peace.”

Lark Musical Society’s performance of Britten’s “War Requiem” will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Pasadena (500 E. Colorado Blvd.) on Saturday, March 4 at 7 p.m. To obtain tickets and more information call Lark at (818) 500-9997.