HCS Festival of Remembrance took place at Comprehensive School on 25 November 2017. Members of the audience (which included local MP, Fiona Bruce, David Savage, Parish Council Member and Cheshire East Councillor, Les Gilbert) were treated to an extraordinarily moving and exciting event. This was no conventional choral concert; Holmes Chapel Singers skilfully combined key elements of the Remembrance service with the dramatic music of Karl Jenkins’ Mass for Peace, The Armed Man, the pathos of war poetry and the nostalgia of wartime songs.
The evening began with the solemn entry of the British Legion Standard, the Union Flag and the Guide’s Standard to the insistent pulse of Jenkins’ opening march "The Armed Man". Four further pieces from The Armed Man were interspersed with war poems read by 6th Form students from Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School.
Holmes Chapel Singers and their Youth Choir were accompanied by piano, two percussion, two trumpets and cello. This ensemble wonderfully conveyed the thrill of Jenkins’ music from the drama of "Charge!" to the sublime singing and cello solo of the "Benedictus".
In Part 2 of the concert the audience joined with The Singers in singing a selection of popular wartime songs. But the highlight of this section was a lovely performance (with actions!) of "Run Rabbit Run" by the Youth Choir.
The final part of the event returned to the solemn themes of sadness and remembrance; the last post was played and Malcolm Coates of the British Legion gave us the Exhortation to remember the fallen and the epitaph from the Kohima memorial. The Singers opened this section with a beautiful rendering of the exquisitely sad Lachrymosa from Mozart’s Requiem and finished it with a haunting performance of Lux Aeterna set to Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations.
As a whole, Holmes Chapel Singers’ Festival of Remembrance was an extraordinarily moving and satisfying event.