Remembering World War I
'It was unanimously resolved that no further symphony concerts be given until the termination of the War'.
These were the ominous words written in the minutes of the Extraordinary General Meeting of the London Symphony Orchestra held on 26 September 1917. Despite these words and the absence of 33 members on active service, the spirit of the LSO survived, and concert-giving resumed soon after the end of World War I.
Formed in 1904, the LSO is the only current London orchestra that was operating during the war, and during 2014 and beyond we will be exploring the stories of the Orchestra, its members and the role of music and culture in wartime through a series of events and online resources.
Lives of the First World War
The Imperial War Museum has created a permanent digital memorial to the 8 million individuals who contributed to World War I. We have created a community page for the members of the LSO who served in His Majesty's Forces and are aiming to piece together their stories.
Can you help us? Are any of the men members of your family? Do you know their service history? Or have you got photos, memories, medals or other information about the men we have already connected below? You can help us to build their stories.
> Find out more and explore the stories so far
Follow our progress and read all the stories on the LSO Blog
> World War I stories blog
Sally Beamish’s Equal Voices is a new 45-minute piece for chorus, orchestra and two soloists co-commissioned by the LSO and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
'The opportunity to create this work with Andrew Motion, the LSO, LSC and two fabulous soloists, is tremendously exciting and inspirational.'
The idea for Equal Voices came from Sir Andrew Motion, whose powerful collection Laurels and Donkeys reflects on many aspects of war. Sally Beamish has selected the poem ‘An Equal Voice’ which draws on the tragedy of shell shock and war-induced post-traumatic stress, from the Somme to Afghanistan. The poem uses the voices of patients and doctors, most of which are taken from A War of Nerves by Ben Shephard, and Beamish has juxtaposed the poem with some of the most beautiful passages in the Old Testament from the ‘Song of Songs’, thereby contrasting Motion’s dark and devastating imagery with this remarkable Middle-Eastern love idyll. Sally Beamish has travelled widely to give seminars and talks about her music, and both she and Andrew Motion will take part in a one-day conference exploring music and trauma at LSO St Luke’s, prior to the evening concert.
Mon 4 Aug 2014 6.30pm, live on BBC2
World War 1 Remembered from the Battlefield
A unique commemoration held in St Symphorien military cemetery in Belgium, where British, Commonwealth and German soldiers are buried alongside each other. For the first time ever, musicians from the LSO and the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle come together to mark the occasion by performing British and German music, alongside poetry read by serving soldiers and music by children’s choirs.
Watch live on BBC2 and on the BBC iPlayer (UK only)
Sat 1 Nov 2014 10am–4pm, LSO St Luke's
LSO in Wartime: Create an opera in a day
Suitable for families with children aged 8 to 11 years
Join us for a creative day for families. Take part in workshops exploring London in wartime and discover what happened to the LSO (former in 1904) between 1914 and 1918, whilst working towards creating a mini opera with LSO musicians and special guests.
Sun 2 Nov 2014 10am–5.30pm, LSO St Luke's
The Musical Brain Conference: Music, Poetry and The Trauma of War
Ian Ritchie directs a one-day conference on the subject of music and war with guest speakers Stephen Johnson, Hugh McManners, Lord John Alderdice, Lt Col Bob Meldrum, Andrew Motion and Sally Beamish, followed by a panel discussion and open forum.
> Book a place (ticket price includes admission to the evening concert)
Sun 2 Nov 2014 7.30pm, Barbican
Equal Voices premiere
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No 5 ('Emperor')
SALLY BEAMISH Equal Voices (based on the poetry of Andrew Motion; World Premiere, co-commissioned with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra)
Gianandrea Noseda conductor
Nelson Freire piano
Shuna Sendall soprano
Marcus Farnsworth baritone
London Symphony Chorus
Simon Halsey chorus director
> Book tickets