On 7 November 2018, 100 musicians from five Chelmsford schools performed The Violin in Chelmsford Cathedral, a work inspired by a First World War Soldier, Private Burchell, and his violin.
The young musicians from the five schools worked with composer John K Miles to create The Violin, and then formed an orchestra and choir to perform the work alongside City of London Sinfonia. The now restored soldiers’ violin was performed throughout the world premiere of this original work by young violinist Iris Heij from Boswell School.
Private Burchell’s grandson, Alan, and granddaughter Adele and other family members travelled from Cornwall to hear the concert.
“This cherished violin not only came home from the trenches as a soldier’s memento, but also survived World War Two when my grandfather lost not one, but two, homes during the Blitz. My parents, my sister Adele and my children all feel so proud and very honoured that time and money was spent on restoring Albert’s violin to be played at such a poignant centenary Remembrance concert. We are so thrilled that this small battered and scratched instrument not only survived, but will be heard again after one hundred years. We are looking forward to honouring his memory with this small but important piece of our country’s history.“Alan, Private Burchell’s grandson
The Violin musically describes the story of Private Burchell and his violin, which both made the journey to the Front Line of the Great War, through many battles and ultimately a safe return home to look forward to future peace. The areas of Europe where he fought with dates are etched on the back of the violin in Burchell’s hand.
After Burchell’s passing in 1999, his family very kindly donated his violin to the Essex Regiment Museum.
“We are delighted that one of our most interesting museum exhibits is being brought back to life in a way that reminds all of us alive today of the sacrifices made by so many who have fought for our freedom over the years.”Major Peter Williamson, Chairman of Trustees of the Essex Regiment Museum
The concert also included poetry readings by students who entered the Chelmsford Festival of Ideas Peace Poetry Competition. Young students also introduced the music by wartime composers including Holst, Ravel, Vaughan Williams and George Butterworth, which was performed by City of London Sinfonia.
“This was a wonderful way to remember those in the First World War, serving and supporting the Armed Forces, and their families left at home. Thanks to all involved.”Councillor Yvonne Spence, Mayor of Chelmsford
“It was a genuine privilege to be part of such a memorable event, at the heart of a community, with musicians ranging from beginner to top flight professional.”John K Miles, composer
Chelmsford Remembers Them was produced by Orchestras Live and Essex Music Education Hub in partnership with City of London Sinfonia, Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Cultural Development, Chelmsford Theatres, Essex Regiment Museum, Chelmsford Ideas Festival and Chelmsford Civic Society.