Young musicians commemorate WW1 centenary

This story was published 27 March 2018

Hundreds of young musicians, singers and dancers from across North Yorkshire will perform together in a major concert on Thursday (29 March) to mark the centenary year of the end of the First World War.

The County Saxophone Ensemble in rehearsal

Up to 450 children and young people from the North Yorkshire County Youth Orchestra, County Brass and Saxophone Ensembles, County Folk Group, County Youth Choir, Selby Brass Band, musicians from five county music centres and a massed primary school choir will take part. 

They will perform, along with the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps, based in Catterick Garrison and dancers from the Harrogate District Dance Company, at the Harrogate Convention Centre on Thursday. 

The concert will comprise a series of scenes with music, dance and readings that reflect the key periods of the war and end with an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by a generation.

The concert, which is called “Lest We Forget” 1918-2018, has been funded by North Yorkshire County Council and led by the Council’s music service.

“Our music service stands out as a beacon of good practice,” said County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire’s Leader, “and North Yorkshire has a national reputation for keeping the flag flying for musical education. 

“We are very proud of the thousands of children and young people who take part in instrumental and singing classes and practice every week across the county and this exciting concert will give all the performers and the many who will come to see them perform a unique opportunity to reflect on the centenary of the end of World War One and the significance of the war for our country’s history.

“We are also immensely proud of the history and service of our armed forces and as we are home to the country’s largest garrison in Catterick it seems only right and fitting that we should come together in this way to commemorate the centenary year of the ending of the Great War.

“This is going to be the most wonderful concert, a showcase of the talent and energy of our young people and we are very proud to enable it to take place at this fitting and prestigious venue.”

Children and young people have been rehearsing songs and instrumental pieces for the concert in their schools and in the county’s music centres since January.  

On Thursday, they will all come together for the first time, rehearsing during the day in preparation for the evening’s concert. 

During rehearsals, staff from the Green Howards Museum, Richmond, will be showing and talking about exhibits from the museum’s extensive World War One collection of memorabilia, artwork, uniforms, medals and personal equipment. Parents have also contributed pictures and histories of family members.

“We hope the day will give all the performers the chance to deepen their knowledge about World War One,” said Ian Bangay, head of the North Yorkshire Music Service, “not only through the music and the readings and by playing alongside the Royal Armoured Corps band, but also by having a chance to see the museum exhibits and to talk to the museum staff about their significance and to share their own families’ histories of World War One.

“The concert also gives us a chance to show the great work of our music service and the wonderful achievement of our children and young people who are supported by it.”

Tickets for the concert are available from, by calling 01423 502116 or from Harrogate Theatre box office on Oxford Street. Tickets cost £11 for adults and £5.50 for concessions.

North Yorkshire is one of a minority of local authorities that has retained a music service and leads the North Yorkshire Music Hub with partner organisations. As many as 70 instrumental and music curriculum teachers work around the county delivering instrumental teaching to individuals and groups every week. In total, more than 7,500 children and young people are involved in music playing and learning every week through the music service.

The county music service is also recognised nationally for good practice in the delivery of its whole class teaching programme. Through this programme, children in key stage two have access to an instrument for free for a year in order to learn to play and to access the music curriculum through practical learning. As many as 76 programmes of this nature are running across the county.

As well as school activities, the county council also has six music centres, in Harrogate, Northallerton, Scarborough, Selby, Skipton and Whitby, where children and young people on Saturday mornings can join a range of ensembles from the youngest beginner groups to senior bands, ensembles and orchestras. 

The music service also runs county ensembles - youth choir, saxophone and brass ensembles, and county orchestra for the most talented musicians - which tour extensively. This year they will be visiting and playing at Ypres in Belgium, the site of one of World War One’s great battles. Over the years, a significant number of these county musicians have gone on to professional music careers.