Aylesbury concert marks Somme centenary

The battle of the Somme

The battle of the Somme

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A concert to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme will see orchestras all over the country performing to live screenings of one of the most successful British films ever made.

Aylesbury Symphony Orchestra is one of the orchestras performing a specially commissioned score by Laura Rossi in February.

The orchestra will play live at a screening of the Imperial War Museum’s 1916 silent film The Battle of the Somme by Geoffrey Malins and J. B. McDowell, which gave its 1916 audience an unprecedented insight into the realities of trench warfare, controversially including the depiction of dead and wounded soldiers. The film shows scenes of the build up to the infantry offensive including the massive preliminary bombardment, coverage of the first day of the battle (the bloodiest single day in Britain’s military history) and depictions of the small gains and massive costs of the attack.

The actions of the soldiers on the film are far removed from the swagger and march of war films, as the men smile awkwardly at the new fangled cameras, but then this was real. The Battle of the Somme remains one of the most successful British films ever made. It is estimated over 20 million tickets were sold in Great Britain in the first two months of release, and the film was distributed worldwide to demonstrate to allies and neutrals Britain’s commitment to the First World War. It is estimated that over half the population of the UK watched the film, a figure not matched until the release of Star Wars in 1977.

The concert with Aylesbury Symphony Orchestra takes place at Aylesbury Music Academy at 7.30pm on Saturday, February 4. Tickets cost £15, concessions £12 and can be booked online at www.aylesburyorchestra.co.uk.