Remembrance concert raises over £800 for former soldiers

A special concert which featured a First World War soldier's violin has raised £803.20 for a charitable fund.

A hundred young musicians from five Chelmsford schools played together alongside City of London Sinfonia in the Remembrance concert, which took place at the city's cathedral on Wednesday 7 November. The schoolchildren performed a composition for orchestra and choir called 'The Violin', which they had helped to create with the help of composer John K Miles, Essex Music Education Hub and Orchestras Live.

'The Violin' was based on the story of Private Albert Edward Burchell, who was born in Walthamstow and enlisted into the Essex Regiment on 30 December 1914 at the age of seventeen and a half. In 1916, he was posted to the Western Front as part of the Hertfordshire Regiment, carrying with him his treasured violin, on which he scratched his Army numbers, units and some of the places he served in.

Private Burchell survived to see the end of the First World War, one hundred years ago on 11 November 1918, and lived to the age of 86. After his death, his family very kindly donated his violin to the Essex Regiment Museum - who provided it to be played by a young musician at the concert in a touching tribute.

The Cathedral was packed out for the concert, with an audience including Private Burchell's own grandson, Alan, and granddaughter Adele, who came all the way from Cornwall to hear his violin sound out once more.

On the night, £803.20 was raised through donations for the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity. All collections are for the sole benefit of those in need, being either former soldiers of The Royal Anglian Regiment or one of its forebear Regiments.

The Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Yvonne Spence, attended the concert. She said, "The Remembrance concert, featuring a violin which went with a local soldier to the front line of the war, was an incredible and touching occasion. The talent and passion of the young people involved, along with the emotion of the subject matter, affected everyone listening. I am delighted that we have raised the sum of £803 to help those who have served our country as part of the Armed Forces and now find themselves in need."

Peter Lovell of Essex Music Services said, "This project inspired young musicians to compose a most poignant work associated with World War One. On the concert day, the students met for the first time and formed an orchestra and choir. It was a privilege for the Essex Music Education Hub to collaborate with other organisations and create such musical memories for everyone and also raise funds for the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity."

Stuart Bruce of Orchestras Live said, "The Violin was the latest in a series of projects we have co-produced with Essex Music Hub and Essex County Council Cultural Development, featuring young people from Chelmsford in a range of creative roles in collaboration with a world-class orchestra and composer. We are delighted that the project had such positive outcomes, including the money raised for a very good cause."

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