Commemorative Events: London
As the country pays tribute to those who gave their lives, London venues, galleries, and concert halls play host to a series of commemorative events
INSTALLATION: Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, Tower of London, ongoing
This powerful evolving installation at the Tower of London is a deeply moving creation by artist Paul Cummins. 888,246 ceramic poppies, each representing a British fatality from WWI, will progressively fill the Tower’s moat in a seemingly endless stream. The Last Post will be played every evening at sunset, with the nominated names of individual Commonwealth soldiers read out in nightly ceremonies.
BOOK: The Last Post: Music, Remembrance and the Great War
Alwyn W. Turner’s newly published work discusses the moment when, at eleven o’clock on the morning of the 11th of November 1919, the British Empire came to a halt – a moment of silence, interposed by human sounds of grief, that was broken finally by the playing of the Last Post. The book discusses the significance of such an anthem in our increasingly secular society, and its profoundly modern power as a response to the trauma of war. Turner explores the relationship between history and remembrance in this contemplative and timely work.
CONCERT: Britten: War Requiem, Royal Albert Hall, 9th November, 3.30pm-5pm
Benjamin Britten’s seminal piece of music will unsurprisingly have a central place in the day’s commemorations. Written to celebrate the new Coventry Cathedral after its destruction during the Second World War, for this centenary event it will be performed on Remembrance Sunday in tribute to the First. The Royal Choral Society will join with the London Philarmonic Orchestra and the Trinity Boys Choir, with all proceeds given to Veterans Aid.
DANCE: Rites of War, Trinity Laban, 11th November, 7.30pm-9.30pm
The Laban building sees aerial dance company Gravity and Levity collaborate with choreographer and film maker Darshan Singh Bhuller, combining archive footage with the commentary of BBC war reporter David Loyn. The performance lays WWI alongside modern experience in an acrobatic and arresting display.
EXHIBITION: Before the Dawn: An Artist's Journey Through Afghanistan, La Galleria Pall Mall, 5th-15th November
Portrait artist Arabella Dorman visited Iraq as a war artist in 2009, and began to document the lives of British Soldiers. She now has a new show based on her travels in Afghanistan, which displays her impressionistic style and deeply moving subject matter. She depicts the lives not only of the British soldiers, but also of the Afghan civilians whom they were living beside. Read our exclusive interview with Arabella here.
CONCERT: Reflections on World War I: Elgar and Vaughan Williams, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 1st December
This World War One concert brings together two pieces which bookend the conflict, written by two composers who were to be greatly affected by the events. In the serene candlelit setting at The Globe the Chilingirian String Quartet will play the war haunting tribute. A time for reflection as November’s commemorations come to an end.
EXHIBITION: A War Childhood Revisited: 1939-1945, St Cuthbert with St Matthias Church, 3rd - 10th November
This exhibition takes a nostalgic look at the London of the Blitz: ‘the waiting sirens, nights spent in underground stations, ladies painting their legs with tea or cocoa because of the shortage of nylons, evacuations and rationing’. In the midst of this it also depicts the resilience of childhood: of boyish pleasures, playing conkers and building camps on bombsites. The paintings, by Bob Barling, born in Earl’s Court at the outbreak of WWII, show his affection for the warmth of community spirit at the time. All donations go to the British Legion and War Child charities.
DANCE: Young Men, Sadler’s Wells, 14th -18th January (booking now)
This performance by BalletBoyz: all-male British ballet troupe, is a joint commission by Sadler’s Wells and the WWI Centenary Art Commission. It will premiere in January, and delves into the relationships of love, friendship, loss and survival that develop between young men plunged into the senseless brutality of war. It’s likely to be a sell-out show, so we’d recommend booking well in advance.
EXHIBITION: An Unknown Soldier: An Exhibition by Henningham Family Press, Saison Poetry Library, Southbank Centre, 4th November- 4th January.
This exhibition discusses the legacy of WWI with a series of printed poems responding to remembrance, DNA technology and propaganda. It also includes new works to mark the centenary, commissioned to highlight the 43 million pocket Gospels of St John given to servicemen, paying tribute to time in the trenches.
FILM: Kajaki: a true story, in cinemas 12th November
This modern war film tells the true story of a shocking period in recent British history, depicting a group of British soldiers who attempt to disable a Taliban roadblock, and their struggle to survive in the war zone. Dealing with powerful themes of bravery and sacrifice, next week sees the film's timely release to UK cinemas.
EXHIBITION: Wounded: The Legacy of War, Somerset House, 12th November
Canadian musician and celebrated photographer Bryan Adams has released a book containing portraits of young British servicemen and women who have suffered life-changing injuries on duty, with an accompanying exhibition at Somerset House.
PERFORMANCE: Childhood Memories, St Cuthbert with St Matthias Church, 8th November, 4-7.30pm
Drama, poetry and music come together in this commemorative series of monologues, based on the memories of childhood during WWII. Presented by the Earl’s Court Community Trust and performed by The Earl’s Courtiers with New Horizon’s Chelsea Belles & Beaux choir, and St Cuthbert with St Matthias school choir, it is likely to be an intimate and nostalgic evening for contemplation.