Thursday, July 10, 2014
Budding musicians are gearing up for a moving performance in memory of Norfolk First World War heroine Edith Cavell.
The world premiere of Eventide, written by Patrick Hawes, will be held at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday July 12 at 7.30pm.
It will be performed by 120 singers, including 34 children from the International Britten Music Course at Gresham’s Prep School in Holt held this week.
They will be joined by the Sheringham and Cromer Choral Society, Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas and the 50-strong English Chamber Orchestra.
Mr Hawes, who has lived in the Norfolk Broads area for eight years, joined the music residential course for one day.
He said: “The concert is going to be an amazing occasion. The children sound wonderfully bright and polished. The sound has got the innocence of youth as well as a knowingness. I get the sense Eventide will be the most moving piece I have written. There won’t be a dry eye in the house. I am very moved that young people are taking part.”
The youngsters on the residential Britten course are aged eight to 13 and come from Gresham’s Prep School, All Saints’ Primary School in Stibbard, St Nicholas House Preparatory School in North Walsham, Glebe House School in Hunstanton, Beeston Hall School near Sheringham and the Norwich School.
Other young singers have come from as far as Bahrain and Venice.
The 43-minute performance of Eventide, which includes words written and spoken by Edith Cavell, will be sung in front of 800 people.
It also incorporates the “haunting” tune of Christian hymn Abide With Me spoken by the nurse the night before her execution on October 12 1915 aged 49.
She was found guilty of treason and shot by a German firing squad after helping about 200 allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.
Edith Cavell was born in Swardeston, where her father was a vicar.
Mr Hawes, who is the current Gresham’s composer in residence until December this year, spent one year writing Eventide and was helped by his brother the Rev Canon Andrew Hawes, a vicar from Lincolnshire.
“Through my research I became aware of not only how brave, patriotic and kind she was. But overall she was utterly committed to the Christian faith. To me she was almost saint like,” the composer added.
It was recently reported that Edith Cavell would be commemorated on a new £5 coin.
Tom Appleton, Gresham’s music outreach director, said: “Many of the music course students have not sung with an orchestra before and to have their first experience in front of the English Chamber Orchestra is exceptional. It is really important to keep the message of the war alive so that the children can learn from the mistakes of the past. Eventide is so beautiful.”
About 70 unreserved side aisle tickets are still available and cost £10. Call 01603 630000 to book.