2,000 attend Flanders Remembers concert in St Paul’s Cathedral


Both British and Flemish dignitaries gathered in London’s iconic cathedral yesterday for a momentous occasion that saw Flanders Symphony Orchestra and St Paul’s Cathedral Choir perform two works written specifically to commemorate the First World War

‘Sacrifice and solidarity’

Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois greeted some 2,000 guests yesterday evening in London’s St Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral, one of London’s most recognisable monuments, was the site of the 15th annual Flanders Remembers concert in commemoration of the lives lost in the First World War.

This Sunday is the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the war on 11 November 1918. “With the commemoration of the fallen British and Commonwealth soldiers,” said Bourgeois, “this moving concert honours the close ties between Flanders and the United Kingdom. This special commemoration of the centenary of the armistice in the unique location of the iconic St Paul’s Cathedral will form a highlight of the First World War remembrance ceremonies that have been held during these past four years.”

Guests at the event included members of the British parliament, the lord mayors of London and Westminster, dignitaries of the Queen, ambassadors to the EU and veterans and organisations with whom Flanders has been working for the First World War centenary.

‘Dignified message of peace’

“Flanders has worked closely with its British partners to call attention to the Great War centenary and the message of peace in a dignified and meaningful way,” said Bourgeois. “The co-operation between Flanders and the United Kingdom is continued through this concert, thanks to a unique collaboration between British and Flemish artists.”

Members of the public could also buy tickets to the concert, which was led by Flemish composer Dirk Brossé. He conducted the Flanders Symphony Orchestra an St Paul’s Cathedral Choir in a performance of his own composition Distortion, a Hymn to Liberty as well as The Cool Web: A Robert Graves Oratorio by contemporary British composer Jools Scott. British baritone Edward Grint and Flemish soprano Hanne Roos were featured soloists.

“Commemorations such as these remind us of the sacrifices, but also of the solidarity, of the soldiers who fought and died during the First World War,” continued Bourgeois. “The government of Flanders will endeavour to pass on this commemoration and the hope of lasting peace to the generations that will follow us. The Armistice centenary, in addition to emphasising the message of peace, also places Flanders on the map as an important international destination for peace tourists.”

First World War

Claiming the lives of more than nine million people and destroying entire cities and villages in Europe, the Great War was one of the most dramatic armed conflicts in human history. It lasted from 1914 to 1918.
Flanders Field - For four years, a tiny corner of Flanders known as the Westhoek became one of the war’s major battlefields.
Untouched - Poperinge, near Ypres, was one of the few towns in Flanders that remained unoccupied for most of the war.
Cemetery - The Tyne Cot graveyard in Passchendaele is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.
550 000

lives lost in West Flanders

368 000

annual visitors to the Westhoek

1 914

First Battle of Ypres