World War One Project: Sharing Performance


Pupils from four Birmingham primary schools joined together with CBSO musicians today for a special sharing performance at CBSO Centre.

The hour-long concert marked the third year of the CBSO World War One Project – a four year programme taking place in the Perry Barr district of Birmingham, commemorating the centenary of the First World War. Working with Anglesey, Brookvale, St. Mary’s C.E., and Welford Primary Schools, we will be creating a new ‘War Requiem’ which will be premiered in 2018.

This year’s project has seen the CBSO artistic team work creatively with Year 5 students from St Mary's C.E. Primary Academy to develop their melodic ideas in response to World War One paintings and artwork. ‘Wires’ is the third movement of a large scale composition, written across four years by Kerry Andrew and our participating schools to commemorate the centenary of World War One. Students from St. Mary’s C.E. Primary Academy were inspired to start their creative journey when they visited the Imperial War Museum in London.

St. Mary’s students also wrote a new lullaby to sing to a soldier who was visible in a painting by Paul Nash. The soldier was trying to sleep but looked cramped and awkward.

Year 4 and 5 participants.
Year 4 and 5 participants.
Ula Weber conducting pupils at CBSO Centre.
Ula Weber conducting pupils at CBSO Centre.
CBSO Musicians taking part in the performance.
CBSO Musicians taking part in the performance.

Alone and tired,
No sleep in this dark place,
The mud is freezing.
No bed for my head, 
We're all ghosts now,
Surviving bad dreams.

A new lullaby by St Mary's Students

Year 4 and 5 pupils from all four of our participating schools have been working with CBSO vocal leaders, Ula Weber and Ruairi Edwards, to rehearse the new movement Wires, alongside the first and second movements of the composition: The Mud and the Sky and In this Dangerous World. They have also learnt other more familiar song repertoire written during, and in connection to, World War One.  

This afternoon’s performance also included extracts from L'Histoire du soldat or The Soldier's Tale by Igor Stravinsky. This is originally a theatrical work "to be read, played, and danced" by three actors and one or several dancers, accompanied by a septet of instruments. The piece was conceived by Stravinsky and Swiss writer C. F. Ramuz based on a Russian folk tale (The Runaway Soldier and the Devil). CBSO musicians Oliver Janes, Charlotte Skinner and James Keefe performed movements from a Concert Suite arranged for Violin, Clarinet and Piano that were performed in all four schools earlier this year.


This project has been made possible through the generous support of an anonymous donor, the City of Birmingham Orchestral Endowment Fund, the Rachel Baker Memorial Charity and the St. Thomas’ Dole Charity. We are also grateful to the Clive and Sylvia Richards Charity, principal supporters of the CBSO’s work with young people.