World premieres will mark Remembrance

Nicholas Cleobury with pupils from Portsmouth Grammar School.
Nicholas Cleobury with pupils from Portsmouth Grammar School.
The Solent Male Voice Choir

REVIEW: Solent Male Voice Choir at St Mary’s Church, Hayling Island

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Remembrance concerts will be given on three successive weekends in November to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War – two of them including world premieres.

Portsmouth Grammar School again teams up with the professional London Mozart Players on Remembrance Sunday itself (November 9, 8pm), to perform a specially-commissioned work by a leading British composer, Jonathan Dove.

On Saturday, November 15 (7.30pm), Portsmouth Festival Choir will sing another new work – by Adrian Bawtree who grew up in the city as the son of naval base commander David Bawtree and became director of music at St Mary’s, Fratton Road.

Then on Saturday, November 22 (7.30pm), Portsmouth Choral Union will be at St Mary’s Church with a programme featuring Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man – A Mass For Peace.

Jonathan Dove’s music has a strong reputation for engaging directly with audiences, and PGS headmaster James Priory says: ‘We are thrilled to be giving young musicians the opportunity to be involved in creating a major new musical work inspired by Remembrance.

‘I cannot think of a better way for young people to engage creatively in the centenary of the Great War.’

Dove’s For An Unknown Soldier is a setting of nine poems about the the war, by writers including Wilfred Owen and Ivor Gurney.

The première will be led by renowned choral conductor Nicholas Cleobury, with Nicholas Sharratt (tenor), PGS Chamber Choir and Castle Primary School Choir from Portchester. Music by Holst, Butterworth and Reinecke is also included.

Portsmouth Festival Choir’s concert is entitled Reflection And Remembrance. The work by Adrian Bawtree, now organist at Rochester Cathedral in Kent, is 1914 – And They Went To War. It reflects on the feelings of those who fought and those who saw them go to their deaths – contrasting soldiers’ songs with War Office slogans, and children’s poems with solemn hymns.

Elgar’s The Spirit of England will also be performed.

Portsmouth Choral Union’s performance of The Armed Man, with the professional Southern Pro Musica conducted by David Gostick, will be accompanied by film taken from conflicts throughout the 20th century, with smoke effects and dry ice. The programme also includes Haydn’s Mass in Time of War.

n Tickets:

PGS/London Mozart Players: £10 from (023) 9236 0036.

Festival Choir: £15 from ticketsource.co.uk or (023) 9273 7470.

Choral Union: £12 in advance from (023) 9282 2227 or pcuticketing@gmail.com, or £14 at the door.

MIKE ALLEN