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Clouds of War

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."


Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech

A magnificent remembrance concert featuring the country's finest classical musicians and attended by war veterans took place in London to commemorate the end of World War II and celebrate the formation of the United Nations. On October 27th 2005 the English Chamber Orchestra together with the Tallis Chamber Choir gave the world première of Michael's major new work Clouds of War written especially for the occasion. London's newest concert venue, Cadogan Hall, hosted this exceptional celebration.

The gala concert, in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent and which featured celebrity speaker Kate Adie, was conducted by Simon Wright and was the pinnacle of a project which incorporated educational activities in the weeks leading up to the performance. The entire project was supported by the government's Home Front Recall Scheme in collaboration with two major institutions - the Imperial War Museum, London and SSAFA Forces Help. Proceeds raised from the concert benefited SSAFA Forces Help creating a lasting recognition for this deserving and appropriate charity.


The project was conceived by Michael whose intention was to instigate a large-scale musical celebration in the capital that suitably honoured and recognised the enormous contribution of those who took part in or were affected by the war - many of whom were in attendance at the concert. He said of the project, "I am of the generation born shortly after World War 2, brought up with the scars of war still clearly evident. Many years on, the War still represents a high point of courage and adversity so to write a piece of music that reflects the sacrifice and celebrates the peace is a privilege."


A key part of the event was the educational workshops leading up to the concert involving a broad cross-section of society. These took place at the Imperial War Museum, providing an evocative backdrop to the activities and broadening the scope for the general public to become involved. The workshops were lead by the ECO and IWM.

See here to read Simon Rae's libretto.


All photos by Robin Bielik.

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