Birmingham to stage National Children’s WW1 Remembrance Concert

Event will commemorate the centenary of the end of hostilities.

Minister for Faith Lord Bourne has confirmed the Lest We Forget concert, backed by £90,000 government funding will take place in Birmingham, in November 2018 as part of the government’s centenary programme of ceremonial events, cultural activity and education.

Hosted at the GentinG Arena, the concert comes at the end of a four-year programme to honour and remember those who lived, fought and died in the First World War.

Lord Bourne said: “It is vitally important that each new generation is encouraged to remember the enormous sacrifices made in defending the liberties we take for granted today. The stories of individual bravery and the terrible losses experienced by countless families must never be forgotten. This special concert will enable thousands of young people to play an active dramatic part in the commemorations and hear of the experiences of those only a little older than themselves.”

When a campaign for volunteers was launched in August 1914, thousands answered the call to fight. Among them were 250,000 boys and young men under the age of 19. The concert will remember their stories and they will be given a voice by those just a year or two younger.

After being inundated with applications from those wanting to take part, some 2,000 young singers and musicians under 18 years of age are now being selected through their schools and regional music education hubs across England and Wales to play.

Music and songs to be featured will include Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations, which is played at the Cenotaph in London each Remembrance Sunday, Silent Nigh’, the Christmas carol said to have been sung by British and German soldiers during the December truce and songs popular among soldiers such as Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag and It’s a long way to Tipperary. Readings from diaries and letters written at that time will also be given and archive film footage from the trenches will be shown.

The concert was conceived by celebrated children’s author and retired education expert Dr Ron Dawson, who also composed the song Lest we Forget.

Dr Dawson said: “I am delighted that the Department for Communities and Local Government is making this concert possible. If the spirit and duty of Remembrance is to endure, it must be passed on from generation to generation. The ambition of this Children’s Centenary Concert is to renew that remembrance, educate and show our eternal gratitude to those who lived, fought and died in that terrible war a century ago.

“The First World War was not just fought on the battlefields of Northern Europe and the concert will also commemorate the vital contributions made by soldiers, sailors and airmen drawn from all four corners of the globe. It will also tell the story of the role of women played on the home front.”