Nov 21, 2016
Hull Philharmonic shows the Grim Reality of the trenches

The Battle of the Somme Centenary Tour is coming to Hull.

The remarkable documentary film from the trenches will be shown at the City Hall on November 26 when Hull Philharmonic Orchestra will play modern composer Laura Rossi’s score live.

The Battle of the Somme film made a huge impact on the wartime public who for the first time saw close-up action from the front, including the bombardment of German positions and the deaths of soldiers going ‘over the top’.

Prime Minister David Lloyd George said: ‘If the exhibition of this picture all over the world does not end war, God help civilisation!’

More than 20 million tickets were sold in the first six weeks after its release, making it one of the most seen British films in history.

Now, a century later, the film, commissioned by Imperial War Museums, has been selling out again at venues around the country.

Entitled The Grim Reality, the Hull Philharmonic concert includes further film.

In the first half, playwright John Godber with his wife Jane will recount the experiences of local soldiers and their families. Their pre-recorded contributions will be shown on the screen above the orchestra, along with contemporary film, in a specially commissioned script recounting the activities of the East Yorkshire Regiment and those they left behind.

Musical director Andrew Penny said it was a privilege to be part of the Somme100 Film Project and one of the 100 orchestras involved.

“Laura Rossi is a renowned composer with credits for many well-known films and television programmes. She captures the mood perfectly – from regiments marching optimistically to the front to the grim reality of what happened next.

“We are also playing music written during the war years by Sir Edward Elgar and Frank Bridge and works by Ernest Farrar from Harrogate, and Rudi Stephan from Germany who were killed in action.

“Elgar’s Polonia is one of his most powerful pieces in recognition of Poland’s suffering. He mixes his original work with the Polish national anthem and patriotic tunes."

The centenary tour began at the battlefield Thiepval Memorial on July 1 this year with screenings at UK locations on the same day. By the time the tour concludes its year-long run, the re-mastered digitalised film will have been shown in the UK, Europe and across the world.

The concert has gained public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and is the second of a series of three by the Hull Philharmonic over a four-year period reflecting crucial times in the First World War.

Photographers Geoffrey Mallins and JB McDowell risked their lives to shoot The Battle of the Somme, which has a PG rating from the British Board of Film Classification.

The full programme is: Heroic Elegy by Ernest Farrar; Lament by Frank Bridge; Music for Orchestra by Rudi Stephan; Polonia by Edward Elgar; The Battle of the Somme by Laura Rossi. The concert starts at 7pm.

Advance bookings–£8 to £27 (discounts available) from Hull City Hall box office, 01482 300300, or online at