Watford Philharmonic at Watford Colosseum – 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme featuring the Western Front Violin – Saturday 29th October 2016 at 7.30pm

Do keep this date in your diary as our first concert of the 2016/17 season will be rather special. Tickets are now on sale.

During the four year period commemorating the centenary of WW1 we have included works in several of our concerts which reflect on various aspects of conflict and its effect on the lives of so many families and individuals, then and now. We have already performed Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem and Benjamin Britten’s seminal masterpiece, the War Requiem and in June this year we hosted a one-day open ‘Come & Sing’ workshop on Karl Jenkins’ popular modern classic The Armed Man.

So, on 29th October 2016 under the title of Remembrance, we will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with a programme of appropriately themed music to include the much-loved Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad, John Williams’ theme from Saving Private Ryan and the timeless Mozart Requiem–  as well as the hauntingly beautiful Méditation from Massenet’s opera, Thäis, played as a solo piece for violin and orchestra by our leader, Jeanne Mann.

Jeanne will be performing this familiar work on a unique instrument, on loan to us from the Imperial War Museum for the occasion.  Known as the Western Front Violin, it was made in the 1980s by a former leader of our orchestra, Kenneth Popplewell, using timber he collected from sycamore and pine trees whose roots had survived the carnage of the battlefields around the River Somme. A highly-skilled craftsman, Kenneth was also a talented professional violinist and he intended using his beautiful instrument in concerts to raise funds in support of various war charities.  After his death in 1989, the violin was gifted to the Imperial War Museum in whose collection it remains. It is frequently played there on Armistice Day and we are delighted that the curators have agreed to us borrowing it for the occasion of our October concert, enabling it to be seen and heard once again in the town.

The violin will also be on display in the Watford Museum during August and September as a centrepiece of their summer exhibition about the Great War and its impact on the people of Watford, where it will inspire some of the family-friendly activities offered alongside the exhibition. We hope that many of you attending our Remembrance concert will visit the museum to see the Western Front Violin at close quarters. Further details will be posted on the Museum’s website at