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LEST WE FORGET:Philomusica's Commemoration of the Centenary of the commencement of World War I

With our highly successful summer Music Theatre concerts behind us our thoughts are now turning to more serious matters.


On several occasions in the past our main autumn concert programme has been devised so as to include music suitable for Remembrance. This year, however, we were especially keen to make our contribution to the national commemoration of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. So we’ve put together what we think is a particularly appropriate programme which we’ll present at a special concert in the magnificent surroundings of Tewkesbury Abbey on 8 November, starting at 19.30.


The concert will take place on the evening before Remembrance Sunday and so, fittingly, it’s to be given in support of the work of the Royal British Legion.


The main work in the programme will be Elgar’s moving settings of poems by Laurence Binyon, The Spirit of England (1915/16) with soprano soloists Kathryn Skipp and Kate Bennett.


The World War I theme will be maintained with performances of ‘Trench Songs’ by Gloucestershire composer and poet, Ivor Gurney. These are four songs that Gurney wrote in 1917 while serving on the front line in France. These songs will be sung by Karen Longmate (mezzo) and David Parsons (bass-baritone).


Two songs - In Flanders and By a Bierside – will be performed in the rarely-heard orchestrations by Gurney’s great friend and fellow Gloucestershire composer, Herbert Howells. The remaining songs - Severn Meadows and Even such is time – have been orchestrated by the highly-regarded Worcester-based composer, Ian Venables.


We intend to make our concert an important part of the annual commemoration of Remembrance in Tewkesbury, which is bound to have even more focus than usual this year. We’re particularly pleased that the Vicar of Tewkesbury, Fr, Paul Williams, has agreed to give a short reflection before we end our concert with The Spirit of England.


Though the heroism and horrors of World War I are particularly in our minds at present there is another poignant anniversary which we wanted to mark. In the first half of the programme we will anticipate the tenth anniversary of the devastating tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean region on Boxing Day 2004 by singing Tsunami Requiem by Chris Williams. This accessible and thoughtful piece was directly inspired by that disaster.


We’re delighted to welcome the Cheltenham Youth Choir who will join us sing Tsunami Requiem.


The concert will also include a performance of the Te Deum by Dvořák.


This is a programme that’s very close to Linda’s heart. She says: ‘We wanted to mark the centenary of World War I and Elgar’s deeply-felt response to the conflict seemed to us to be the most eloquent way to do so. It will be a great privilege to conduct this wonderful music and also Ivor Gurney’s very moving songs in these excellent and rarely-heard orchestral versions.’ 


If you can’t join us for the Tewkesbury concert we will be giving performances of the programme, except for the Tsunami Requiem at Holy Trinity Church, Longlevens, Gloucester, on 11 October and at St John in Bedwardine, Worcester on 25 October. Those two concerts will be accompanied by organ. All three concerts start at 19.30


Tickets for the two October performances cost £8.00. For the orchestral performance at Tewkesbury Abbey tickets are priced at £12.00. At all three concerts accompanied children under 16 will be admitted free).


You can get tickets in advance from or at the door.


Becoming a Member


If you would like to join Philomusica as a chorus member please contact the relevant Group Representative:


Worcester –   

Gloucester –


If you’d like more details of the singing opportunities as a soloist with Philomusica, then please contact Linda at


We’d love to hear from you.