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St James Church, Piccadilly
Photo courtesy of

A War Poets concert, co-sponsored by the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and several other literary societies, took place on Saturday 25th April 2009, at St James's Church, Piccadilly, and was a great success.

The concert, which has been several months in the planning, was based around a series of poems on the theme of the First World War, set to music by a variety of composers, ranging from Britten and Butterworth to contemporary composers Elaine Hugh-Jones and Alan Bullard. The latter two were both present in person to hear their work performed at the concert.


The concert was introduced by Margi Blunden, daughter of the poet Edmund Blunden. Soloists Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) and William Coleman (baritone), ably accompanied by Anna Tilbrook, performed a sequence of works as follows:

Rupert Brooke – "Spring Sorrow" and "The Soldier"

John McCrae – "In Flanders Fields"

(music by John Ireland)

F W Harvey – "In Flanders"

(music by Ivor Gurney)

Ivor Gurney – "Horror Follows Horror" and "From Omiecourt"

(music by John Jeffreys)

Edward Thomas – "Tall Nettles"

(music by Edward Eastaway Thomas)

Edward Thomas – "Lights Out"

Ivor Gurney – "Song"

(music by Ivor Gurney)

Ivor Gurney – "Pain"

Robert Graves – "Flying Crooked"

(music by Ian Venables)

Edmund Blunden – "To Joy"

Thomas Hardy – "Channel Firing"

(music by Gerald Finzi)

Wilfred Owen – "Songs of War"

(song cycle with music by Elaine Hugh-Jones)

Edward Thomas – "Strange Journey"

(song cycle with music by Elaine Hugh-Jones)

A E Housman – "Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad"

(song cycle with music by George Butterworth)

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson – "The Mugger’s Song"

(music by Ivor Gurney)

Edmund Blunden – "A Swan, A Man"

(music by Alan Bullard)

Wilfred Owen – "At a Calvary Near the Ancre"

(music by Benjamin Britten)

Siegfried Sassoon – "Idyll" and "Everyone Sang"

(music by Cyril Rootham)

The performance included the world premières of three works: a setting of Edward Thomas’s "The Bridge" by Elaine Hugh-Jones, Edmund Blunden’s "A Swan, A Man", set by Alan Bullard, and a long-lost work by Ivor Gurney – a setting of Wilfrid Gibson’s poem "The Mugger’s Song".

A few surplus copies of the programme, which includes the texts of all works performed at the concert, are available for sale at £2 plus p&p. Please contact the SSF for further information.

Nicholas Mulroy

William Coleman

Anna Tilbrook