In Flanders Fields: English and Flemish Songs, Stories and Poetry from The Great War

Michael Morpurgo joined musicians for this emotional show. Photograph: Geraint Lewis/Rex Features

Earlier this week, bestselling author Michael Morpurgo joined the Coope, Boyes and Simpson a cappella trio and the Paul Rans Ensemble from Flanders, Belgium for an unforgettable evening of poetry and music marking the centenary of the First World War.

Michael read a selection of war poems, including some by his own grandfather, the eminent Belgian scholar, poet and playwright Emile Cammaerts, accompanied by a mixture of English and Flemish songs composed by Coope, Boyes and Simpson and Paul Rans capturing the spirit of the Great War.

The evening was supported by the Representation of the Government of Flanders in the UK and the ‘In Flanders Fields Museum’ in Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium.

Robin Denselow has this to say in his article for The Guardian:

The centenary of the start of the first world war is being marked by a batch of musical projects – I’m aware of six so far – but it will be difficult for other live events to match this original and powerful blend of music and spoken word…..

The staging was simple but effective. The cast performed beneath a screen that showed what they were reading or singing, including translations from Flemish and French, for this was a show in which the words were as important as the exquisite harmony singing.

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