Ely composer creates piece of music from his grandad’s D-Day story performed by more than 100 schoolchildren
- Credit: Archant
An Ely composer joined forces with a symphony orchestra to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day by bringing children and veterans together to create a musical extravaganza.
James Olsen first started to plan the 'musical documentary' around two years ago - and even roped in support from his grandad who is a former D-Day veteran.
The project saw Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Alfred Seafarers' Society and James collaborate to make the new piece of music that was performed in front of hundreds of people at The Pyramids Centre in Portsmouth on Friday (June 7).
Based on veterans' stories, the responses were recorded and shaped by James into the composition.
The 37-year-old, who also teaches at Cambridge University, explained: "My grandad Geoffrey Haskins was a D-Day veteran and growing up I was always fascinated to hear his stories.
"I had this idea that I wanted to create a piece of music for the D-Day anniversary so decided to approach the orchestra in Bournemouth as my granddad had lived there for over 30 years.
"He is 92-years-old now so it was amazing to get him involved along with other veteran Robert Ball."
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Geoffrey, who is now a resident at the Royal Alfred Seafarers' Society, was in the Royal Navy and only 17-years-old during D-Day on board the HMS Emerald.
James put questions to him and fellow Merchant Navy veteran Robert before more than 100 children from across Portsmouth captured their memories in the piece of music entitled The Key Note of Everything to be SIMPLICITY.
The phrase came from General Montgomery's one-page sketch for D-Day.
In the lead up to the performance, James provided coaching sessions for teachers and uploaded videos to his Youtube channel of the project coming together.
"I was so pleased with how everything went on the day and the children and musicians were all amazing," James added.
"I very much hope that we managed to raise awareness of a pivotal moment in European history not only among the young people who took part, but more widely among those who attended and followed the project through our online documentaries."
The BSO worked in partnership with Portsmouth City Council to deliver the project, as well
as the D-Day museum in Portsmouth.
For more information on James' work visit https://www.youtube.com/jamesolsentv