Despite the stresses and demands of his life as a professional singer, German baritone Benjamin Appl said he would not change anything, recognizing it is a privilege to live this life. “Sometimes I have asked myself if there is anyone in this world with whom I would like to swap lives, and I can always truly say that I am most happy where I am, and there is no one with whom I would want to exchange lives.”
Britten’s War Requiem
Right now the rising star is enjoying a run of performing Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem all over Europe with different conductors and ensembles. The day before Remembrance Sunday, which this year will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, 300 musicians from the combined forces of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Choristers of Liverpool Cathedral, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Knabenchor Hannover, and a team of world-class soloists will come together in the awe-inspiring space of Liverpool Cathedral to perform Britten’s War Requiem on November 10 (tickets). He will then travel to Berlin, Germany, on November 15 and then Leeds, UK, on November 17 to perform the epic work.
“I truly can say that in my opinion this music is the most wonderful oratorio written in the 20th century,” Appl said.
In the new year, Americans will get a taste of song recitals and the “new face” of Lieder singers during Appl’s tour of the United States.
“I am always very passionate when it comes to Lieder recitals. Truly I think it is the most wonderful art form, where text and music is combined in such a unique way,” Appl said. “Often I hear that art song is dead or that we cannot connect anymore to all those old texts and music; I think exactly the opposite. All these songs are about emotions and feelings we carry very deeply within us, essentials like falling in love, disappointment, the loss of a beloved person or solitude — strong feelings we all can connect with and have experienced. I think that within this art form lie many opportunities and I am constantly searching for ways of combining it with other art forms or putting it in a more current context. As a performer it is definitively my experience that these songs make me understand myself and others better, and I believe the same can happen for the listener as well.”
Classical music audience and education
Appl has an interesting view on the classical music audience. He said classical music has always been more attractive to the older generation—it’s a fact to not dwell upon. However, classical musicians should always try to find a way to attract younger people and new audiences. Every time he goes to an art gallery, he is amazed by the number of young people, but why can’t the classical music world attract them to its performances?
“There must be some sort of barrier somewhere, and I am still unable to fathom what it is,” he said.
Appl’s method to high quality music education for children sounds very simple, but it is not so easy to change. High quality music has to be more present again in each individual family.
“I remember that I sang every day with my mother and siblings when I was very little,” he said.
There is scientific research proving studying music and the arts in schools has a much higher impact on academic achievement than funneling more funds into core curriculum. State and government has to support and put more effort into the arts instead of cutting it.
“I wonder often why no one in power takes this seriously. High quality music has to be deeper rooted in our society,” Appl said.
For now, musicians can do their part by going out, doing workshops in schools, and connecting with people outside the musical “bubble.”
Visit Benjamin Appl’s website for more information and a calendar of his performances.
Listen to Appl’s recently released album Bach on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and Google Play.