The echoes of war: ‘Musical art gallery’ to showcase sight and sounds of battle to mark WWI centenary

It is something most people hope they will never experience firsthand, but the sounds and sights of war will be coming to Manchester this July.

To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) are hosting a three-day event at the Imperial War Museum North.

After the Silence: Music in the Shadow of War will see 300 RNCM students create a living installation in the iconic IMW North building, giving audiences a unique audio-visual spectacle in a musical response to war, from World War I up to the present day.

The project will form part of IMW North’s Reactions 14 season of creative responses to the First World War.

Michelle Castelletti, the RNCM’s artistic director, says visitors to the event can expect an emotionally overwhelming experience as sounds and images transform the rooms of the museum.

“We wanted to create something different; we didn’t want it to be like a normal concert where people just sit down and listen to the music,” she said.

“It will be like a musical art gallery, people will be able to choose what they see and listen to, there will be performances in different parts of the museum.”

Themes explored will include the poignant Christmas Truce, where British and German soldiers met in No Man’s land for a game of football, and the dropping of the atomic bomb in World War II, reflected in Penderecki’s rendition of Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.

Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man will be familiar to many while the works of British classical composer Edward Elgar will also feature, including Nimrod and Sospiri.

Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time will portray images of war from personal perspectives, while Strange News by Norwegian composer Rolf Wallin will feature film projections and a spoken narrative on the Ugandan children of war.

Meanwhile the museum café will be awakened by the sounds of Ragtime and Jazz, documenting the world’s musical evolution from WWI to the ‘Roaring Twenties’, and the big band music that followed.

“Expect an all around experience and be prepared to take it all in,” Michelle said.

“I am sure that audiences will be rapt by the transformation of this magnificent space and by the effects of the music resounding off its high walls.

“There is certainly something for everyone.”

After the Silence: Music in the Shadow of War will be showing at the IWM North at 6.30PM on July 3-5. For more information, click here.

Image courtesy of PD-BritishGov, with thanks.

Related Articles