WW1 Centenary Commemoration Concert

06/02/2018 16:56

Bury Parish Church, 24th March 2018, 7:30pm

The Manchester Chorale are fortunate to have a composer in their midst. Chris O’Hara has taken four poems from First World War female poets and set them to choral music. Collectively known as ‘Scars Upon Their Hearts’, they capture the excitement, confusion, horror, grief and consequences of war. Three of these pieces will have their first performance at this concert.

‘Your battle wounds are scars upon my heart' wrote Vera Brittain in a poem to her beloved brother, 4 days before he died in June 1918. Almost 3 years earlier, she had already lost her fiancé Roland Leighton, when he died on 23 December 1915 of wounds received during battle. In response to this, she wrote her poem Perhaps, which captures the raw grief of sudden bereavement in a heart-rending way.

There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale is a stark protest against war in all of its manifestations. She meditates on the beauty of the natural world and how war is an irrelevance to the innocence of natural creatures, and gives this stark warning: ‘Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree, if mankind perished utterly,’

The Dancers by Edith Sitwell is a powerfully written biting satire of a poem. The dancers in question are the ‘dull blind carrion flies’ who feed on the dead.

Rouen by May Wedderburn Cannan captures the excitement and confusion of emotions experienced by so many women who went to Rouen and other places in France to help with the war effort , from making endless cups of tea to dedicated and selfless nursing of the wounded on return from the battlefields.

Other pieces in the first half will be on similar themes from poets ranging from Pericles, John Donne and Longfellow to Walt Whitman and Mary Elizabeth Fry. The music set to these poems comes from an equally wide-ranging source: from Purcell to another local composer David Jepson. From the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’, John Williams’ moving Hymn to the Fallen will be familiar to most people.

Fauré’s Requiem is one of the gems of classical music with some of the most beautiful and soulful melodies ever composed. Although a lament for the dead, it doesn’t have the sombre mood that many requiems have. Instead, it is calm and serene with a peaceful outlook – a fitting end to our concert. You can hear Koor Acantus (who visited us last year) singing the Requiem here.

A small orchestra will accompany the Chorale in the Requiem.

Tickets in aid of the Royal British Legion from Bury Tourist Board at the Fusilier Museum, on the door or reserve tickets here.