Great War Symphony
Our next concert features a new work, written for the centenary of the Armistice of November 1918. We will be performing Patrick Hawes’s Great War Symphony at St Andrews Church, Plymouth, on November the 3rd. This is a symphony in a conventional four movements, for two soloists, chorus and orchestra, and is just under an hour (half a full concert programme).
The texts are primarily poetry from the Great War, encompassing big names of the era such as Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and other scribes who don’t spring to mind just now but probably should. Also featured are the soldier’s oath of allegiance, the Last Post, and the latin Dies Irae.
A major new work on this subject inevitably suggests comparisons. This is not a work to threaten the War Requiem’s crown as the towering masterpiece of war commemoration, but in any other comparison I’d say it holds up pretty creditably. I’ve enjoyed learning it and look forward to the performance, which I expect will also be well worth attending for readers local to the area.
For readers not in the area, performances are also taking place elsewhere. The premiere was a couple of weeks ago at the Royal Albert Hall. Another big-name venue is Carnegie Hall where it’ll be performed on November 11th, with some of my fellow-performers flying to New York to take part in that too.
 Or rather, the next concert I’m performing in. “Our” doesn’t really fit when it’s a group I’ve joined for the first time for this concert, being a sucker for opportunities to perform in a major new work.