On 4 August 2014, the 100th anniversary of the day the First World War was declared; we opened a four day Behind the Lines creative summer school, due to end with a grand finale performance by participants alongside musicians from the RPO at St John’s Smith Square.
Several people who read our previous post about the Summer School and the performance at St John’s Smith Square asked whether the concert had been recorded. We’re pleased to say that this video about Behind the Lines, including the amazing summer school is now available to view:
Take a look at the Gallery too!
The summer school featured two of our First World War composers who were also good friends, Maurice Ravel and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Ravel had wanted to be an air-bomber, but was rejected because he was too small; he was finally allowed to become an ambulance driver, and he saw and experienced the horrors of the front-line at first hand. Vaughan Williams was a stretcher-bearer, who also knew the unimaginable tragedies of the trenches. Both of them made their war-time experiences part of their music; Vaughan Williams in his ‘Pastoral Symphony’, and Ravel in his suite ‘Le tombeau de Couperin’. These works would be the focus of the summer school, using them as inspiration to create a new work for our final concert.
Pupils from schools across Westminster and adults from local community group Open Age all contributed material for the final work, which was performed in front of an audience of VIPs, family and friends. From the opening chords to the incredibly moving finale – an off-stage performance of The Last Post – what started out as a lot of disconnected ideas, transformed into a very moving and fitting tribute not only to our chosen composers, but also our many First World War heroes.