News

Iconic cemetery hosts Remembrance Day choir as Olympians visit Menin Gate

11 November 2011

Events are under way at two of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's most iconic sites today (Friday, 11 November). At Tyne Cot Cemetery - the Commission's largest burial ground, with almost 12,000 First World War burials - members of the CBSO Chorus from Birmingham will honour the fallen with a rendition of 'Abide with Me', whilst at the Menin Gate in nearby Ieper, which lists the names of almost 55,000 casualties with no known grave, Olympians from the UK, France, Belgium and Germany gathered as part of a special Remembrance Day event, ahead of next year's Olympic Games.

Almost 60 members of the CBSO Chorus will be paying their respects by singing at Tyne Cot Cemetery; taking time out from their tour of Belgium, where they are performing the War Requiem, by Benjamin Britten, with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra under Conductor Martyn Brabbins.

Stephen Maddock, Chief Executive of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) said: " This tour of Belgium by the CBSO is particularly poignant because of the nature of the work that is being performed. Britten's War Requiem is a timeless meditation on the pity of war, which contains both the poetry of Wilfred Owen and the Latin Mass for the Dead. Written for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, after the medieval Cathedral was destroyed during the Second World War, it is a piece that is particularly important to the CBSO family as we performed the premiere and will be giving the 50th anniversary performance in May 2012."

Prior to the ceremony at Tyne Cot, which started at 15:00 CET, the annual service of commemoration took place at 11:00 at the Menin Gate, the venue for the nightly "Last Post" service - which has been performed every evening since 1928, except for several years during the Second World War. Several medal winners from past Olympic Games were present, including Lord Moynihan, the Chairman of the British Olympic Association.

Ian Hussein, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Director for northern Europe said: "These events and the people attending them will focus attention on what are two stark physical reminders of the consequences of war, but we hope they will also bring people from a variety of nations closer together as athletes prepare for London 2012."