Jutland, Lest We Forget
A century after the largest naval battle of the First World War, the British nation remembers all those who fought and fell in the historic Battle of Jutland which took place on 31st May 1916. ‘Jutland, Lest We Forget’ ensures that we reflect on both the successful British naval dominance of the North Sea following the battle, but also the resultant loss of life and devastation. The first half of the piece focuses on the build up of action and the conflict that surrounds such a dynamic battle; this is followed by a period of reflection after the violence has passed. The eight tubular bell tolls that haunt the middle of my piece represent the sounding of eight bells on a ship, often used to show respect for a sailor lost at sea.
As the battle was made up of so many young sailors still in their teenage years, I aimed to create a narrative within my piece which shows the experience from the mind’s eye of an innocent young sailor caught in the conflict. Many sailors who survived gave an account about the sheer volume of noise that could be heard during the battle; this is conveyed in the cacophony of the climax of the first half of the piece. The latter half represents the sailor reflecting on past memories of those who have been lost at sea. The fact that only 20 of HMS Queen Mary’s 1,288 crew members survived, evokes the sentiment that I aimed to create towards the end of the piece where the survivor is overwhelmed by the losses surrounding him.
Premiere: Docklands Sinfonia, conducted by Spencer Down
Recording: Chamber Orchestra of Queen Anne's School, Caversham, conducted by Gabrielle Woodward