The LSO in World War I: commemoration weekend round-up

This weekend we reached the first of our moments of commemoration of the World War I centenary:

Friday 31 October: Lunchtime Concert

Post-graduate student singers from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama sang songs from the war, including works by George Butterworth and William Denis Browne, both of whom were killed on the battlefield. Rachel Leach tied it all together with stories of LSO musicians who served in the war. We were delighted to see so many people, and particularly younger audience members joining us during half term.

Lunchtime concert rehearsal at LSO St Luke's

Saturday 1 November: Family Day - Create an Opera in a Day

6- to 12-year-olds and their families participated in a day of storytelling and arts & crafts, culminating in staging three musical scenes that had been put together during the day with Rachel Leach and Tim Yealland. The scene recreated the stories of three of our wartime LSO musicians, Adolf Borsdorf, Sydney Moxon and Eli Hudson. So much was achieved in a short space of time, and there were some star turns by some of the youngest participants!

Storytelling workshop

Arts & Crafts sign

Family Day performance

Sunday 2 November: Study Day – Music, Poetry and the Trauma of War

The Musical Brain brought together the finest minds for a day of discussion about the use of music in the theatre of war - to inspire the troops, to galvanise the peace effort, and in a therapeutic setting. Composer Sally Beamish and poet Sir Andrew Motion introduced their new work Equal Voices, receiving its premiere in the evening concert.

Study Day session

Picture from The Musical Brain

Sunday 2 November: Equal Voices premiere

The final event of the weekend was the LSO's evening concert at the Barbican Centre. The concert began with Elgar's Carillon, played 100 years after it was first performed by the same orchestra, and ended with the world premiere of Sally Beamish's Equal Voices, commissioned jointly with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Sally's piece set texts by Sir Andrew Motion, the words of soldiers and doctors from World War I to the present day affected by shell-shock and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The concert was broadcast live by BBC Radio 3, and can be heard on the BBC iPlayer until the beginning of December 2014

Before the concert and during the interval we showed a series of slide featuring some of the stories of the men of the LSO 1914–18:



Finally, we were thrilled that BBC London 94.9 featured our work on Lives of the First World War on their breakfast show on Monday 3 November. The short segment can be heard at the very end of the programme, available on the iPlayer.

The future

Our research into the musicians of World War I will continue - we have so much more to find and would like to hear from anyone who can help us. Do you know any of the names? Are they family members? We would particularly like to find more pictures of our men, and indeed the Orchestra during the war. Get in touch! Our archivist Libby Rice can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The LSO will also be marking further significant points during the centenary commemorations between now and 2018, so stay tuned to the blog for details.