They shall not grow old

Around 300 people filled the sport’s hall at Camborne International Academy last Friday evening to join in a recognition by the people of Camborne of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Led by Holman-Climax Male Voice Choir and a selection of the choir’s soloists, the audience were asked to step back in time to the Edwardian Music Hall and a period when Britain still had an Empire and it seemed that nothing would ever change. The audience were serenaded by old favourites like “Daisy, Daisy,” “You are my honey-suckle”, “Where did you get that hat”, plus the monologue, “Albert and the lion”. All the choruses were projected for audience participation and those present sang with gusto and responded to the banter from the singers. As the evening progressed, however, the choir changed the mood and through a narration by choir member, David Oates, and appropriate music, looked at how we went to war and how the world changed forever.

Early in the war, society was upbeat – this was to be the war to end all wars and would be over by Christmas. Choir members and audience joined in old favourites like “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, “Pack up your troubles” and “Goodbye-ee” which maintained that confidence that it would all be over soon. The mood then changed to the despair of the soldiers that they might never return home and all joined in the haunting “Keep the home fires burning”, “Roses of Picardy” and “There’s a long, long trail a winding” which speak of that yearning for home and loved ones.

The evening concluded more formally with the haunting “Soldier’s Farewell” the sounding of The Last Post, the reading of the familiar words, “They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old” and the evening closed with the hall in darkness and the spotlight on tenor soloist, Danny Johns, who sang “Where have all the flowers gone” which moved many present.

In two weeks time the choir will present another evening, in the same venue, looking at music post-war. The choir will look at how music and society changed after 1918 with its guests, The Cornwall Boys’ Choir, who will sing some more modern pieces and the Gemini Dance Studio from Lanner who will interpret some of the music, post 1918, in dance. The choir will sing a whole range of songs from Cole Porter classics like “Who wants to be a millionaire” to songs of the sixties like “House of the Rising Sun” and “He ain’t heavy”.

As always, the evenings are free, with a pasty and cup of tea thrown in and booking is essential through David Oates on 01209 716559 or, preferably by e-mail, giving names and pasty preference – beef or veggie. Those who enjoy the evening are invited to make a voluntary donation on the way out to cover the costs of putting on these evenings. These evenings are growing in popularity and reflect a return to how the community entertained itself in the time before television and social media.

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