Britten’s War Work

As part of the celebration of the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten–a well-renowned British 20th Century composer–the Halle Orchestra in Manchester will perform works composed by Britten during World War II at a concert on October 3. These works will be performed for the first time in public since they were written 70 years ago. Britten is known for his pacifism, and regards his compositions during this time as his “war work.” Another well-known piece composed by Britten is War Requiem which juxtaposes the traditional Latin mass for the dead with nine war poems by Wilfred Owen. A common musical motif in this piece is the use of the interval of a tritone, which adds to the theme of conflict and resolution that are part of the piece as well as part of wartime itself.  The haunting melodies of this requiem can’t help but make your skin tingle and your hair stand on end. This piece creates a powerful reflection on war as you morn the loss of those who died in war with the traditional Latin and also hear the words of a dead soldier himself.


Women Between Peace and War

KABUL, 2008.

This image is one of many in the powerful exhibition Women Between Peace and War. Women Between Peace and War is a collection of images of women in Afghanistan which attempts to “ensure that the voices of women and girls are not lost in the ongoing international military and political engagement in Afghanistan.” Available as a poster set with a handbook, as well as museum projections and slideshow form, images of women juxtaposed with statements from the National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan create a beautiful and emotionally wrenching statement about the women and children who are caught in the middle of the struggle for peace. These images demand a change in the system, they demand a change in the way these women are treated, and they demand that we pay attention. This project is only one amazing example of the kind of art that Leslie Thomas’s Art Works Project attempts to create.  Art Works Projects uses photography to raise awareness and to spur social change. Thomas wants to do more than make art, she wants to reach an audience outside of a museum setting, connect with them emotionally, and get them to act. She works in the “space between art and activism” and she’s going to bring us all there with her.