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Sharon Bill Music Tutor & Author

Peace and Goodwill to all Men

With all of the recent World War Remembrance I recall the story of local effort - where everybody did their bit. Although the concept of peace and goodwill to all men is traditionally associated with Christmas time, such sentiments needn’t be restricted to just once a year. Here is an article I wrote in our parish magazine some years ago…

During a recent concert with Ceramic City Choir I was interested, and heartened, to learn of a time, during WWII where the miners of the Potteries rallied together to help a village hundreds of miles away. Sometimes the worst circumstances bring out the best in people.As part of my private music tuition practice I write a quarterly article for a local parish magazine. Here is a piece I wrote some years ago…

The ‘Lidice Shall Live’ concert, which took place at the Victoria Hall, was a celebration in remembrance of a similar venture which took place 70 years ago, on September 6th 1942. The local mining communities had heard of a tragic massacre which had occurred in Lidice, of the Czeck Republic, where Nazi forces had razed the entire village, in order to wipe it from the map - they even blitzed the graveyards. All of the men and boys over the age of 15 were shot and the women were marched off to a concentration camp. When they returned only 17 of the younger children had survived.

A spirit of solidarity was inspired and, as Lidice was a mining village, the miners of the Potteries rallied together. Beginning with the concert, in 1942, at the Victoria Hall and following on in a similar suit by 1947 Ledice began to be rebuilt with the aid of £32,000 raised by the people of Stoke-on-Trent. This is quite a fantastic amount, bearing in mind that many of these families had little more than nothing themselves.

The recent memorial concert was attended by Czech dignitaries and also by an elderly gentleman who was also present at the original performance as a 15 yr old lad who, with his family, had been lucky enough to escape before the atrocity hit his hometown. As a young boy he himself participated in fund raising by hosting Czech folk music events and national style dances.

The Ceramic City Choir sang (amongst other items) ‘Octenas’ by a contemporary Czech composer, which is the Lord’s Prayer. It certainly was an education to sing in Czechoslovakian! However, the lilting Central European harmonies were truly beautiful, and this was further enhanced by the harp and organ accompaniment. It’s amazing to hear how a country’s national flavour is embedded within the music. This was complemented by the choir then singing the epitome of British choral music with some heartfelt Elgar.

A fitting addition to the programme was some rousing brass band pieces, provided by Florence Brass Band and the whole evening was brought to a moving finale with the singing of the National Anthems of the Czech Republic and Great Britain.