“It will All be Over by Christmas”

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Christ Church Sunday 30th November 2014 at 5pm

Flyer/poster, with thanks to Charlotte Wakefield: click for PDF
Cherry Mint Koala
Cherry Mint Koala - piano, violin, cello

Songs reflecting on the Great War

When war broke out in August 1914, many said that it would be ‘over by Christmas’. By the end of the year, however, it became clear that this would not be the case.

Presented jointly with virtuoso contemporary trio Cherry Mint Koala and Attic Theatre Company's vivacious Going For A Song group, the first half of the programme features songs that made the Tin Pan Alley hit-list in the early war years, while the repertoire in the second half also draws from other periods and features the première choral performance of Mark Northfield's “Let The Body Go.”

Tickets are only £5, or £1.50 for under 16s - available from choir members, reservable by email, and at the door, subject to availability. Facebook event page here. Please note the start time of 5pm; doors open at 4:30.

Refreshments will be available beforehand and during the interval.


First Half
  • Packed Up to Tipperary (Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • Singlegate Boys (Gentlemen of Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • Danny Boy, arr. Christopher Killerby (Tenors and Basses of Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • I didn't Raise my Son to be a Soldier (Going for a Song)
  • M*O*T*H*E*R (Going For a Song)
  • Tamo Daleko - Serbian (Colliers Wood Chorus and Kat Gadjanski)
  • Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire (Tenors and Basses of Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (Going for a Song)
  • Rose in No Man's Land (Going for a Song)
  • Over There (Going for a Song)
  • Roses of Picardy (Going for a Song and Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • Stille Nacht (Colliers Wood Chorus)
Second Half
  • The Last Post/It's a Long Way to Tipperary (Cherry Mint Koala)
  • Army Dreamers (Cherry Mint Koala)
  • Let The Body Go (Colliers Wood Chorus and Cherry Mint Koala)
  • Where have all the Flowers Gone? (Going for a Song)
  • Bella Ciao (Sopranos and Altos of Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • In Flanders Field (Colliers Wood Semichorus)
  • Sons Of (Colliers Wood Chorus)
  • Beside the Seaside (Colliers Wood Chorus)

Christopher writes...

Over three years ago I was handed a faded photocopy of a single sheet of manuscript paper entitled "Singlegate Boys - 1915" by one of my neighbours (who happens to sing in the choir) and my first reaction was "Ah! This would be a nice piece of local history (Singlegate being our excellent, local primary school) for a concert based around the Centenary Commemorations in 2014. I pinned the sheet to my notice board, always in view at my desk, as a starting point which I could build a commemorative programme around. Later, I re-read the lyrics and, despite some slightly jarring, jingoistic lines about crushing Turks and raking Huns, realised how powerful the message behind this hymn-like refrain "Singlegate boys are there" really was, and imagined the comfort or pride a mother might have found stored in its verses. It is truly an honour to sing this lovely tribute written by old boys from the school, and we are very happy that local historian Diane Holmes will be on hand to tell us more about war-time Colliers Wood.

Finding additional material for this programme has led to some fascinating musical discoveries about the Belle Epoch sensibilities: saccharine sentimentality, unexpected voices of dissent and the macabre ability to make light of the most heinous situations. The first item in our programme, Packed Up to Tipperary, is a "mash-up" of those most ubiquitous war-time songs Pack Up Your Troubles and It's a Long Way To Tipperary. Both martial and rousing in character, they would no doubt have eased the troubles of the boys as they marched their way to the front. The first half of the concert is structured to chart each year of the war with songs that were most popular in Tin Pan Alley, a sort of war-years hit parade.

Colliers Wood Chorus is delighted to be co-hosting this concert with Attic Theatre's Going For A Song and Mark Northfield's piano trio Cherry Mint Koala (who made their début earlier this year during the Colliers Wood Arts Festival), and we are also thrilled to have Katarina Gadjanski join us again, to perform the Serbian song Tamo Daleko (There, Far Away), written in 1916 on Corfu.

In the second half we explore more contemporary reactions and reflections on war. Belgian chanteur Jacques Brel's Fils De (Sons Of) sits alongside Peter, Paul and Mary's Where Have All The Flowers Gone?, an Italian partisan/resistance song Bella Ciao, a contemporary setting of In Flanders Field and songs from Oh What a Lovely War. Mark Northfield's Cherry Mint Koala will be performing an instrumental rendition of Kate Bush's Army Dreamers and the chorus will be joining them for the choral première of Northfield's own Let The Body Go. Colliers Wood Chorus and Mark have happily collaborated on various projects over the years including his latest charity single Christmas Eve, Gracechurch St which is raising funds for Crisis.