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Classic FM Live: The Great War Symphony

Patrick Hawes

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

National Youth Choir of Great Britain

Invictus Games Choir

State Trumpeters and Band of the Household Cavalry

Fanfare Trumpeters of the Royal Air Force

Corps Drums and Bugles of the Royal Marines

Classic FM Live

Royal Albert Hall

Tuesday 9th October 2018

After a busy summer crammed with exciting music-making, what better way to start the new academic year than to take part in the world premiere of 'The Great War Symphony' at The Royal Albert Hall!

Composed by Patrick Hawes (Composer in Residence at Classic FM (2006-2007), the new symphony commemorates the centenary of The First World War.


A massed choir made up of; 'The National Youth Choir of Great Britain' (of which I am a member), 'Invictus Games Choir', 'London Youth Choir' and 'Berkshire Youth Choir' teamed up with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to rehearse in Watford Colosseum on Monday 8th October and in the Royal Albert Hall the following day. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other musicians within the industry and perform together such a moving piece of music.

Concert time!

The concert began with a thrilling fanfare, marking the arrival of Prince Michael of Kent, followed by Britten's beautiful arrangement of the National Anthem. To follow was the much loved anthem; Parry's 'I Was Glad' (composed for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902) which sounded magnificent accompanied by the RPO and famous Royal Albert Hall organ, alongside John Williams' moving 'Hymn To The Fallen' from the film 'Saving Private Ryan'. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra generated a rapturous applause from their performance of 'Mars, The Bringer of War' (Holst) and created a most serene and contemplative atmosphere from their 'Adagio for Strings' (Barber). It was then the turn of the massed choir to sing a beautiful, unaccompanied choral arrangement of Elgar's 'Nimrod', 'Lux Aeterna' (Eternal Light). To complete the first half was an eye-opening performance of 'Songs of the Brave' arranged by 'Major Craig Hallatt', which included the exceptionally talented 'Corps Drums and Bugles of the Royal Marines'.

The second half of the concert comprised entirely of Hawes' 'The Great War Symphony'. Audience members were shown a brief interview clip of Patrick - who talked so passionately of his inspiration for the piece - before he and soloists Louise Alder and Joshua Ellicott took to the stage. The symphony lasted around 52 minutes, and comprised of four movements; 1. Praeludium (1914-1915), 2. March (1915-1916), 3. Elegy (1916-1917) and 4. Finale (1917-1918). It was without a doubt, a great success.

Personal Notes:

It was extremely exciting to be singing alongside amazingly talented professional soloists, Louise Alder (Soprano) and Joshua Ellicott (Tenor). As an aspiring professional singer, it was beneficial to experience rehearsal processes and understand the mechanisms of concert preparation.

Backstage at The Royal Albert Hall, I was lucky enough to meet Classic FM presenter John Suchet. As a listener of Classic FM and owner to many of Suchet's books, this was such a lovely experience.

I would like to thank the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, for once again providing me with another wonderful opportunity to perform in such an inspiring concert, and indeed magnificent venue.

I am extremely honoured to have been a part of such a moving concert. It is important that we take time to remember those who fought for our freedom during The First World War.


The concert proudly supported 'SSAFA' (The Armed Forces Charity). For more information on how to help this amazing organisation, follow the link: (

Where Can I Hear It?

You can download 'The Great War Symphony' via 'iTunes', 'Amazon UK' and the 'Classic FM Store'.

How can I join a choir?

Information on the choirs involved and how to join them can be found by following the links below:

-National Youth Choir of Great Britain (

-London Youth Choir (

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