Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem in Northwestern Suburbs of Philadelphia
Date: April 12, 2012
Location: Pennsylvania, USA
Choir type: Community Choirs
Vaughan Williams knew the carnage of war first hand. During World War I, he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps as an ambulance driver. He witnessed the ravages of the Third Battle of Ypres at Flanders; a battle that raged for months and led to an astounding 1,265,000 British, French, and German soldiers being killed. By the end of the war, over 8.5 million would perish. The bloodshed was unfathomable … the impact on the living immeasurable.
Vaughan Williams composed Dona Nobis Pacem in 1937. Incomprehensibly, the drums of war were again beating. The prospect of renewed hostilities in Europe was all too real with the rise of Nazism and Fascism. Dona Nobis Pacem was a forewarning of another world war. The texts come from the Mass, poems by Walt Whitman, the Bible, and a political speech by John Bright. It spends considerable time focusing on the bloodshed and aftermath of war ~ yet ends with an incredibly uplifting and positive prayer for peace … a plea humankind has urgently prayed centuries upon centuries.
As befits the spirit of the work, our performance of the work is being dedicated to Army Specialist David Emanuel Hickman. On Nov. 14, 2011, just a month before the final US troops left Iraq, Hickman lost his life to an improvised explosive device. Family and friends remember him as a jokester with the nickname “Zeus” (because, he playfully said, his physique was so impressive the gods would be envious); as a high-school outside linebacker who was the linchpin of a defense so complicated his school had to scrap it after he graduated because no other teen could figure it out; as someone with a goal of one day joining the Special Forces. We seek to honor his service and sacrifice.
For additional information, please feel free to contact me ~ dspitko(at)thechoristers.org.