Lest We Forget – A concert in aid of the Poppy Appeal by the Michelmersh Silver Band.
A chance find amongst some old documents has provided inspiration for the by-now traditional concert in aid of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal to be performed by Michelmersh Silver Band in the United Reformed Church in Romsey on Thursday 11th November. For the past three years the concerts have been carefully planned to acknowledge local memories of, and involvement in, the Second World War, and this year there will be a direct link to that era as Band secretary Claire Topp explains: “I was recently given some old family documents by an aunt who supports the concert each year, and amongst them was a carefully preserved printed programme from a United States Army Band and Chorus concert held in 1943 in the Crosfield Hall. It occurred to me that it would be a lovely tribute to include some of the music played 67 years ago in our concert. We have found the same trombone solo arrangement of ‘Getting Sentimental Over You’ that was played in 1943, and the inevitable Glenn Miller piece ‘Moonlight Serenade’ to bring a true wartime flavour to our concert. It would be lovely to hear from anyone who may remember having been in the Crosfield Hall on that evening in 1943.” Research into the US Army performers is ongoing, and it seems likely that the Chorus at least may have been made up of members of African-American regiments as items performed included the ‘Negro National Anthem’ and several medleys of Spiritiuals. The vintage programme also lists The Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor and Mrs R.C. Chambers, and Dr T.P. Lalonde amongst the local dignitaries in attendance, and with Dr Lalonde’s son Robin being an Honorary Life President of Michelmersh Band, another link to the wartime concert is established.
In a first half which will celebrate the wartime spirit, the anniversaries of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz will be acknowledged as the programme includes The Battle of Britain Theme and 633 Squadron, along with the traditional sing-along medley Bless ‘Em All. The second half of the concert will begin with the Royal British Legion Standards being marched in as the concert takes on a more reflective tone. A tribute to the men and women currently serving in Afghanistan will be paid with poetry written by the children of serving soldiers being read as the Band plays Who Wants to Live Forever – a contemporary piece made famous by Freddie Mercury and Queen. Compere James Montgomery will read the Act of Remembrance and the Last Post will be sounded to mark the end of the two minutes silence. After Hymn to the Fallen from the film ‘Saving Private Ryan, the band will strike up with a reprise of the Royal British Legion March as the standards are marched out to end the concert.