in a tribute to those who played a part in WWI, community music group Huddersfield Poperetta is to stage a nostalgic commemorative concert.
In partnership with the Woodsome Beck singers and orchestra, led by June Asquith, the group’s Wellbeing Choir will perform songs from the wartime years – including the well-known Roses of Picardy and Tipperary – at the Huddersfield Methodist Mission on Friday, November 21, at 7pm.
Poperetta is aiming to re-create a WWI concert party atmosphere and the event is the first stage of a project to tell Huddersfield’s wartime story through music.
Project manager and Holme Valley resident Phil Wootton says: “I am hoping that this First World War project develops into a heritage music project in the town. Huddersfield Poperetta is a social enterprise that works with young people to develop skills, and with wellbeing community groups.”
Several weeks ago Phil put out a call to those aged 55 and over who would like to take part in the concert and he has been rehearsing his choir of ‘volunteers’ every Friday. The idea was to give Huddersfield residents the chance to join in commemorations for the First World War centenary, remembering parents, grandparents and other loved ones. Among those involved in the project are people with audio and visual impairment.
After the concert this month, the singers will continue to rehearse and will perform once again in a Christmas concert on Friday, December 12, at Huddersfield Town Hall’s reception room (1pm), which is being hosted by the organisation Better Future for the Blind.
“We will be doing some songs in German as well,” said Phil, “we don’t just remember the war from the British side. Our Christmas concert will include Silent Night in German, for example.”
Visually impaired people from all over South Kirklees are being invited to the concert.
Huddersfield Poperetta was founded by Phil back in 1999 and arose from a project with Royds Hall School. “I was asked to write a musical about Moses for young people to perform,” he explained. Since then the former electrical engineer and retired Huddersfield Technical College tutor in creative music has also worked with disadvantaged groups.
A keyboard player as well as composer, Phil is constantly thinking of new ways to bring music to the community. His latest plan is to run a creative keyboard course through Poperetta.