Memories of the Home Front with the BBC Concert Orchestra


The BBC Concert Orchestra
Credit: Kevin Clifford

The BBC Concert Orchestra rekindles memories of wartime Britain in a performance entitled The Home Front, part of Southbank Centre’s The Rest Is Noise Festival, on Friday, June 7th.  Capturing the spirit of Britain in the 1940s, the Orchestra, under the baton of Principal Conductor, Keith Lockhart, presents a programme of music which celebrates the role of the BBC and British cinema in boosting morale on the Home Front during the Second World War.

The Rest Is Noise Festival is a 250-event cultural and musical history of the 20th century, which is being held over the course of this year.  The BBC Concert Orchestra is presenting a series of eight concerts, each exploring a different musical era of the last century, featuring key classical works which were the product of the social and political environment in which they were composed.  Thus far these have covered British music from the beginning of the 20th century to the time of the First World War, the music of Kurt Weill, and American music – from William Grant Still to Henry Gilbert and Duke Ellington.

The Home Front includes music from two BBC Radio programmes of the time – Sincerely Yours which was presented by the Forces’ Sweetheart, Vera Lynn, and Music While You Work – designed to keep factory workers motivated during those dark days.  John Ireland’s Epic March – commissioned by BBC Radio in 1942 – is included, as is Clifton Parker’s score for the film Western Approaches – widely regarded as one of the most influential propaganda films ever made.  Victor Sangiorgio is the pianist in Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto, composed for the film, Dangerous Moonlight. which highlighted the important role of British cinema during the War.

Actor Samuel West will present Henry V – A Shakespeare Scenario, a recreation in music and narration of Walton’s music from the Laurence Olivier film which was dedicated to ‘Commandos and Airborne Troops of Great Britain, the spirit of whose ancestors it has been humbly attempted to recapture’.


“This is London” – a microphone of the kind used by the BBC in the 1940s

The BBC’s partnership with Southbank Centre for The Rest Is Noise will include a three-part documentary series – The Sound of Fury: A Century of Modern Music – co-produced with The Open University, which will be be screened on BBC Four and at Southbank Centre.  BBC Four will also broadcast archive material across the year, which reflects and comments on the music, composers and events featured in the Festival. A special BBC archive collection on the composers featured during the Festival will be available online, and there will be a complementary programme of broadcasts by BBC Radio 3.  Full listings are available at

One of Britain’s most versatile ensembles, the BBC Concert Orchestra has, since 1952, been the house orchestra for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night, and broadcasts regularly on BBC Radio 3.  BBC soundtracks which they’ve recorded include Africa (for BBC TV) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (for BBC Films).

In 2012 the Orchestra celebrated its 60th anniversary, and in addition to performing at The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert, helped celebrate the 70th anniversary of Desert Island Discs and performed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard.   The Orchestra performs regularly at the BBC Proms, and – as always – on the last night, they’re outdoors for Proms in the Park.


The Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre
Credit: Morley von Sternberg

Southbank Centre is the UK’s largest arts centre, located in London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. The site has a fascinating creative and architectural history, stretching back to the 1951 Festival of Britain. Southbank Centre is home to the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and the Hayward Gallery as well as The Saison Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection.

For more information on The Home Front please visit, and for tickets,

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