The Art of War


Back in the sightlines of another war in the Middle East, we’re counting blessings and mulling the wisdom of pacifist artists Benjamin Britten and Wilfred Owen, whose orchestration and poems transform the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead into the Great War Requiem, interpreted for Remembrance Day this year by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (Orpheum Theatre, Nov. 8 & 10), with guest artists baritone Russell Braun and tenor Nicholas Phan.

Heading further into the past, Claudio Monteverdi completed his eighth book of madrigals (songs in multiple voices without accompaniment), the so-called Madrigals of War and Love, in 1638. Those songs – complex music comparing conquest, defeat, and betrayal – find expression from a dozen singers and musicians (including Boston-based countertenor Reggie Mobley) with Early Music Vancouver (Orpheum Theatre, Nov. 9).

Continuing an offbeat approach to Remembrance Day, you might attend the talk by Bruce Cockburn (St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Nov. 10) the night before, when he reflects on 30 years of song, including many political numbers looking at Central and South American human rights, globalization, land mines, and the War on Terror. The author of protest songs like “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” has sold over seven million albums over five decades; this week he releases his memoir, Rumours of Glory.