The pre-concert talks by both Dr Toby Haggith and Laura Rossi were outstanding and the organisation, support and resources behind the whole project were superb. We are an unusual orchestra in terms of national membership and monthly rehearsal. All support providers were enormously helpful and Mike Eden, was of vital assistance with his prior knowledge and practical help on the day.
The capacity of the cathedral is 500 and we had in attendance between 350- 400. This is double the usual expectation of audience at a dry hire event. Due to the nature of the venue and the rehearsal structure, it is impossible to gauge numbers in attendance during the afternoon, but many visitors sat to watch and listen for extended periods and at one point, there was spontaneous applause.
Due to generous sponsorship support from a number of both police-related and non-police but Worcestershire based organisations, it was possible for the BPSO to donate 100% of the proceeds of ticket sales (amounting to almost £5000) to 3 Worcestershire-based military charities: SSAFA, the Royal British Legion and ABF, the Soldier’s Charity.
All members of the BPSO were truly moved and all stated that they felt privileged to have shared the experience with each other and such an appreciative audience, in such an inspirational venue. Several members had played the piece before and knew what to expect, but all said that there was something incredibly powerful about the impact of the building and the size of the audience. The conversations about the power of the film and the incredible impact of the score, particularly the percussive elements went on long into the night and the next morning during rehearsal.
We were all delighted that we had a young man sitting in with the orchestra as part of the Open Rehearsal. His name is Dale and he is visually impaired and profoundly autistic. He would have struggled to see the screen and probably had no concept of WW1 and yet he was moved by the music and the mood created, to stand, march and salute, try to conduct us all and later to put his head into his hands and shake it in sadness. This was just an incredible moment and demonstrated the overwhelming emotion of the whole event. His parents were delighted that he had the opportunity to meet with Laura.
The very serious facial expressions are because this was because, in spite of many members having seen the film before, this was our first rehearsal with the score. We had the film running at the time and the impact of the music was enormous. The venue is Hindlip Hall, HQ of West Mercia Police Force.
The BPSO was truly grateful for all of the financial support offered and in particular, the extra funding towards our planned outreach work. The four projects were highly successful and were as follows:
An open rehearsal in the cathedral during the afternoon of the performance.
A Play Out! Workshop with 20 students in the Autism Unit of Walkwood Middle School, Redditch. Due to the nature of the childrens’ conditions, they were unable to join us in the cathedral, but all had opportunities to play unfamiliar instruments and to socialise with members of the orchestra.
A Play Out! Workshop with 30 children and young adults, all of whom are either severely visually impaired or completely blind. The morning at New College Worcester was an absolute delight and as a result of Somme 100, these children will continue to develop their relationship with the BPSO by performing with us at our annual concerts in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, in December.
An Afternoon Tea Party with String Quartet for Military Veterans at the Territorial Army Headquarters in Worcester. One of the veterans with whom we all spent time that afternoon was the standard bearer for The Last Post at the end of the performance in the cathedral.