Britten's War Requiem overlaps the timeless liturgy of the mass in Latin (complete with children choir!), organ, a soprano and a full orchestra with the English-language poetry of Wilfred Owen, set to the music of a tenor, a baritone and a distinct chamber orchestra. Two choruses, two orchestras, and ninety minutes of uninterrupted music. Despite being stuffed to the gills with musicians, the pretext for the celebration wasn't Thanksgiving; it was the centennial of Benjamin Britten's birth on the 22nd.

When we heard this piece for the first time, and unlike Verdi's Requiem, it is much more introverted, more meditative, and will give you more of the sads. Quite a feat, really, since the whole point of a Requiem is to explore the spectrum between doleful and disconsolate. Semyon Bychkov conducted the SF Symphony with most of the principals aside in the chamber orchestra to his left, and the rest of the orchestra taking up all the stage's space, squeezing the male singers next to the maestro, and pushing Christine Brewer all the way to the back, under the SF Symphony chorus (the kid's chorus and the organ console were off stage, singing through an open door, for aesthetic reasons, there was enough real estate for them on the emptied out side terraces).