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WW1 concert report

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Southern England's most exciting male voice choir!

Registered charity number: 1112732

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Moving Armistice concert in West Wickham

NOVEMBER 16: The Croydon choir staged a powerful and affecting concert commemorating the centenary of the First World War Armistice in West Wickham on Saturday.   It received a standing ovation and was widely praised for the strength of its singing and the emotions it aroused.

The choir with WW1 actors at St Francis (JWT)

The choir sang a succession of songs following the transition from the patriotic sentiments at the start of the war to the grim realisation of the horrors of the Western Front.  A First World War medley and the Soldiers Chorus from Faust gave way to the poetry of Wilfred Owen and pleas for peace.

One of the most moving moments of the concert came when the 72 names of the West Wickham men killed during the war were read out while the choir hummed Keep the Home Fires Burning, followed by Bring Him Home.

Overwhelming response from audience (JWT)

The concert formed part of a Weekend of Peace organised by St Francis Church, where the concert was held. Also participating were the West Wickham Matchbox Theatre, who read poems by Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, plus a commentary and poem by members of the women’s VAD, and enacted a dramatic encounter by Sassoon and Owen at Craiglockhart hospital, Edinburgh, in 1917.

The performances were linked with a narrative, scripted by choir bass Peter Gillman, that provided a thread through the concert, spelling out the effect of the war on a village community like West Wickham and drawing out the themes of the songs and the poems.

The concert marked the first full public appearance of the choir’s new music director, Roger Pinsent, and pianist Nat Brawn.  It ended with the choir singing the three-part round Dona Nobis Pacem and then exiting the church, leaving a stunned silence until the choir reappeared via a side door.

Audience members, many of them visibly affected at various stages during the concert, were effusive in their praise afterwards.  One said that she and her partner “were deeply moved by the music and the words."  A choir member said his family “thought it excellent and very moving.”


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