A meditation in music on the tragedy of war

Ansy Boothroyd
Ansy Boothroyd

The Phoenix Choir is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War with a concert on Saturday, June 7.

1914 – A Commemoration in Music offers works by Josquin Tallis, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, Bridge, Mendelssohn, John Rutter and Karl Jenkins.

The concert will be directed by Michael Fields and audience members are invited to sing along to popular First World War songs. Soloists include Ansy Boothroyd (soprano) and John Hancorn (baritone), Howards Beach (piano) and David Force (organ).

Michael Fields said: “This programme is a meditation in music on the tragedy of war, drawing on works by composers who fought (some of whom died) in WWI, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, Ivor Gurney and Frank Bridge (who lived in Friston). It includes solo songs, as well as choral music.

“We begin by evoking the timelessness of rural England with folk songs and Vaughan Williams’ reworking of a psalm setting by Thomas Tallis.

“This leads into a ‘sing-along’ of popular songs from the war years, among them: It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, Keep the Home Fires Burning, Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag and Roses of Picardy.

“Our earliest music is drawn from a work by the renaissance composer, Josquin des Pres.

“Like many composers of his time, he used a folk song, L’homme armé (the armed man) as the basis for a setting of the Mass – a tradition that inspired Karl Jenkins’ work in his Mass for Peace 400 years later – from which we hear the movement Reconciliation.

“Also included are a setting of In Flanders Fields and movements from Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Mendelsshon’s setting of the same prayer.”

The concert starts at 7.30pm at All Saints Church, Grange Road, Eastbourne.

Tickets cost £10 (under18s/ students £5) and are available from www.wegottickets.com, the Tourist Information Centre or on the door.

There will be a retiring collection for Royal British Legion (Polegate branch).