War Horse Centenary Concert

These days, multi-media usually means a glitzy hi-tech performance using lots of lights and lots of noise, but in a downbeat, old fashioned crafted sense the Centenary Concert of War Horse at the Usher Hall was a truly enchanting multi-media event.

There was the delightfully nuanced reading of the story by author, Michael Morpurgo, and actor, Juliet Stevenson. There was Adrian Sutton’s lyrical War Horse Suite for full orchestra weaving its magic through the text as the RSNO gave its all under the baton of conductor David Charles Abel. And then there was the large ever changing screen showing artist Rae Smith speedily sketching her interpretation of character and events, simple in execution until the full impact hit us.

Finally, there was the glory of a combined choir – Edinburgh University Chamber Choir and Glasgow Chamber Choir, with the soloist Ben Murray. What a nerve tingling, wonderful, thrilling sound! John Tams beautiful adaptations of old songs were stunning. When “Only Remembered” was first sung it was an emotional assault. “Goodbye Dolly Gray” has never sounded so heart wrenching. As for “Stille Nacht”…..!

Michael Morpurgo himself addressed us after a rapturous reception. It was an event enjoyed by young and old, a fitting memorial for a special time. There were only two UK performances of this for the Great War Centenary year, and I am privileged to have seen one of them.


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