The concert was organised by Shrewsbury Bookfest in collaboration with St Chad's Music Festival as the final part of the 'Bookfest Remembers' series of events marking the four years of the centenary of World War 1.
The first half of the evening featured settings of poetry by Owen and other poets of the First World War for a choir of young Shropshire choristers written by Caz Besterman, who until recently was at Shrewsbury School with her husband Hugo, who was Housemaster of School House. As well as being Head of Classics at Packwood Haugh, Caz is also a talented freelance composer and musician.
Our pupils were lucky enough to have been asked to perform some of her solo settings: Olivia Moir (MSH L6) sang a setting of 'Perhaps', a poem by Vera Brittain; Dominic Sullivan (I U6) performed 'The Poet as Hero' by Siegfried Sassoon; Ben Lloyd (Rb U6) sang 'The End' by Wilfred Owen; and Saffron Milner (M L6) had the audience humming along to 'Roses of Picardy'. Each of them sang beautifully, conveying to the audience not only the musicality but also the meaning of the words.
The second half of the concert featured a world premiere of a new work by Bob Chilcott for chorus, children's choir, chamber orchestra and tenor soloist. Commissioned by Bookfest specially for the occasion, 'Move Him Into the Sun' was a stunning piece of new writing, with Bob Chilcott capturing the world of Owen's poetry and the lost innocence of a generation destroyed by the First World War. Before the piece, Freddie Lawson (SH L6) gave a moving reading of Owen's very last letter home to his mother, which perfectly set the tone for the music.
The orchestra for the event featured many of our own Shrewsbury instrumental teachers and was brilliantly led by Zoe Beyers, one of the country's top violinists and orchestral leaders, who now also lives in Shrewsbury.
John Moore, Director of Music
The concert was broadcast on BBC Radio Shropshire on Sunday 11th November at 8.00pm and also incluced Freddie Lawson reading extracts from Wilfred Owen's diaries. It is available on the BBC iPlayer until 9th December 2018: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06r1xs9