This was the backdrop for the Corsham Commemorates WW1 Concert staged at the Corsham School on 18th October 2014. Sponsored by Corsham Area Heritage and by Corsham Town Council and produced by Pat Whalley the concert brought together singers and readers to tell a story of lives and of life during 1914 to 1918 when the war was being fought and when Corsham was coping with so many of its young men away from home.
The concert started with the Wiltshire Regiment March and a photo of Wiltshire Soldiers resting in Pickwick Road uncertain but excited about the prospect of war brought on by events far removed from the daily routines of the people of Corsham. Graham Paton, as Narrator for the evening then led the audience through the unfolding events of the next four years using songs of the time, extracts of letters from Soldiers, poems, diary entries, newspaper articles, photographs and a performed sketch to both entertain and inform. Corsham Choral Society, Gita’s Choir and, most entertainingly I thought, singers from Lingmara and Find Your Voice Community Choirs sang favourite songs of the time – Silent Night, Daisy Daisy, Home Sweet Home, Over There and Pack up your Troubles and, with the words enlarged on the screen, led the audience in Keep the Home Fires Burning, Mademoiselle from Armentieres and Roses of Picardy. It’s a Long Way to Tipperary was the favourite with the Choral Society encouraging audience participation with train sound effects and noisy passengers.
The Concert was the latest of a number of events planned across the Corsham Area to commemorate the centenary years of World War 1. The re-creation of a Recruiting Office at the Town Hall, a period front parlour display at Arnold’s House, a talk and display of Trench warfare at the Batters and various productions at Pound Arts have set the basis for events still to come over the next 4 years. The displays and the research for all of these events, including the Concert, all help to uncover the individual and collective stories of Corsham as it was during WW1.
In the newspaper reporting style of 100 years ago; the evening of the concert passed very pleasantly and quickly with the audience warmly expressing their appreciation for the effort and talent of the assembled performers. They were royally treated to home baked refreshments provided by Lin Wheeler of Corsham School who in all respects proved to be most welcoming hosts. The performance concluded with a solo rendition of Imagine by Tony Emery and a final act tableau in which all those who had taken part in the performance, including those in costume, stood to receive generous applause. With appropriate reverence the Narrator singled out Pat Whalley as researcher and producer for the concert for particular thanks. A seasonal bouquet of flowers was presented.