Packwood Remembers

Packwood pupils take centre stage for ‘The Pity of War’ concert, Theatre Severn

On 4th November, one hundred years to the day that Wilfred Owen was killed, Shrewsbury Bookfest in collaboration with St. Chad’s Music Festival presented a very special concert at Theatre Severn in celebration of the life and work of Wilfred Owen.

Children from Packwood Haugh School made up the front rows of a large combined youth choir, teaming up with children from other schools across Shropshire to sing a premiere of new songs by composer Caz Besterman, Head of Classics at Packwood. Commissioned by ‘Bookfest Remembers’, the songs used texts by Wilfred Owen and other war poets.

Narration from BBC Radio’s Clare Ashford provided excellent context to the songs, giving details of some of Wilfred Owen’s life and background. The concert’s second half consisted of a world premiere by famous choral composer Bob Chilcott, using words from Owen’s poem ‘Futility’.

It was a highly memorable occasion, started with fanfares and a medley from the Band and Bugles of the Shropshire Army Cadet Force. The new songs were then interspersed with readings, songs and instrumental solos of the era, to build up a truly evocative atmosphere.

After their final song, ‘Tribute to the Fallen’, blood-red poppy petals floated down onto the young choir, seated in silence on the stage, bringing some of the audience to tears. The Packwood Haugh children deserve praise not only for their beautiful singing, but the way in which they conducted themselves during such a significant event.

Highlights of the concert were broadcast on the evening of Remembrance Sunday, 11th November, on BBC Radio Shropshire and can be found on iPlayer until mid-December.

More information can be found here.