(Image © Tony Simpson)

'Great War Symphony' receives world premiere

Posted on centenarynews.com on 09 October 2018
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'The Great War Symphony' - a new choral work written for the close of the WW1 Centenary by British composer Patrick Hawes - is being given its world première at the Royal Albert Hall, London, tonight (October 9).

Hawes has drawn on the First World War experiences of his own forebears, and the words of war poets both well-known and less familiar, for music that brings together the combined forces of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, youth choirs and military bands.

The radio station, Classic FM, will broadcast the concert on October 10. 'The Great War Symphony' will go on to receive its US première at Carnegie Hall, New York, on 11 November 2018,  the centenary of the Armistice. A CD has already been released on the Classic FM label.

Back in January, Centenary News listened in to the start of rehearsals at London’s Abbey Road studios: 

There  are four movements to the symphony, each reflecting a year of the First World War, opening with a sense of foreboding represented through the chimes of Big Ben and words from Wilfred Owen's poem 1914....'and now the Winter of the world With perishing great darkness closes in.'

The second movement brings in Gallipoli and Jutland, building up to the crescendo of the  Battle of the Somme. Sorrow, loss and love are all felt in the next movement, Elegy, the deadlock of 1916-17 when there seemed no end in sight to the bloodshed.

An 'upbeat note' concludes the symphony, using the words of the American poet, Moina Michael, who was herself inspired to adopt the poppy as a symbol of remembrance in November 1918 by John McCrae's In Flanders Fields. Her poem We Shall Keep the Faith includes the line.... 'Fear not that ye have died for naught; We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought in Flanders Fields.'

The Royal Albert Hall - venue for 'The Great War Symphony' première, performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with soloists Louise Alder and Joshua Ellicott (Photo:  Centenary News)

Commenting on the final stages of the project, Patrick Hawes said: "Since completing the work in the spring, it has been full steam ahead with the recording at Abbey Road studios and, during July, we travelled around the UK recording the Scottish, Welsh and Irish choirs. As the final pieces of the jigsaw come together, and more and more stories emerge from the projects singers and players with First World War connections, I am realising even more what an important memorial in music this is."

The première of 'The Great War Symphony' is being held in aid of the services' charity SSAFA. The concert will be broadcast on Classic FM at 8pm on Wednesday October 10.

Images © Tony Simpson

Posted by: CN Editorial Team