World War One poetry inspires composer Alex Patterson

British Troops in France going 'up the line' to their trenches through the mud in the 1914-1918 First World War Image copyright PA
Image caption British troops head to their trenches during World War One

The haunting poetry of World War One has become the inspiration for a new concert piece that is due to get its world premiere in Nottingham.

For its composer Alex Patterson, 26, a former University of Nottingham music graduate, it has been a daunting prospect.

His composition On the Idle Hill, contrasts pre-war hopes in the verses of poet A E Housman, with the abject horror of the trenches in lines from William Hodgson, who died on the first day in the Battle of the Somme.

Alex says: "I find it can be difficult to fully understand the scale of what happened to a whole generation all those years ago, but stripping it down to the experience of one or two people helps to bring it home."

He admits the trench warfare theme is pretty dark and challenging.

"It's quite tricky," he says.

Image caption Alex Patterson works on his piece ahead of its premiere on Saturday

"The poetry and the work ends with a soldier in the trenches seeking help to die. There's nothing upbeat about this."

The choral piece was commissioned for the Nottingham-based Music for Everyone organisation with funding from the Arts Council.

"When I completed it, I wasn't quite sure if I liked it," says Alex.

"You've just got to keep the audience's point of view in mind all the time, then the performers and then finally yourself. Vaughan Williams used to say the same about some of his works.

"Sometimes pieces write themselves but the subject matter in this piece is so difficult. So I'm looking forward to the premier but I'm rather nervous about it.

"Performing it though will be such great fun. The sheer size of the choir and orchestra will give it a big sound."

The short work is shared in a programme that includes another concert piece inspired by war and peace, Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man.

On the Idle Hill is due to get its premier at the Albert Hall, Nottingham, on Saturday 7 February.

Image caption On the Idle Hill is based of the poetry of A E Housman and W N Hodgson

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