Candlelit charity concert looks at First World War and its aftermath

From left: Tony Donovan, Gillian Ferguson and Andrew Storey. Picture by Melvyn Walmsley
From left: Tony Donovan, Gillian Ferguson and Andrew Storey. Picture by Melvyn Walmsley

St Wilfrid’s Consort and friends present a candlelit charity concert at St Wilfrid’s Church, Haywards Heath, on Saturday, November 17, in support of the Royal British Legion.

Le Banquet Céleste, in memory of World War One and its aftermath, starts at 7pm with free admission and interval refreshments.

The music reflects the fact that virtually all of Europe was embroiled in the war, with the USA a late entrant. Casualties were huge: the British Empire suffered nearly a million combatants killed; Russia, France, Germany and Austria-Hungary each rather more, and Italy only slightly fewer. The aftermath of the conflict produced civil and other wars in Russia, Poland, Finland, Turkey and elsewhere, all exacerbated by the Spanish Flu outbreak.

The music includes a ‘Pastoral’ by Sir Arthur Bliss written in memory of his brother killed in the war, a ‘Berceuse’ by Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja, similarly in memory of his brother, some short pieces by Shostakovich and songs including ‘In Memoriam (Easter 1915)’ by Andrew Storey to words by Edward Thomas, also killed in the war.

There are some dramatic readings by Ralph George and the first half ends with an atmospheric organ solo by Messiaen, ‘Le Banquet Céleste’, to be played by St Wilfrid’s musical director Nic Robinson.

The second half, reflecting the more optimistic post-war period, features popular songs from America by Blitzstein, Hoagy Carmichael and Billie Holiday, to be performed by Roger Floyd and guest soprano Sukey Parnell Johnson.

The concert comes to an uplifting close with readings by Laura Sayers and a very exuberant ‘Trio’ by Ernst Bloch. Andrew Storey (piano), Alison Letschka (flute), Tony Donovan (clarinet) and Gillian Ferguson (violin) complete the line-up of performers.

Doors open at 6.30pm. Further details on 07900 602860.

The Magic of Motown returns to Sussex this month. Click here to read the full story.