Jessica Radcliffe: Remembrance (UBU0016)
“A unique and powerfully empathetic portrayal of the impact the First World War, Remembrance transcends boundaries and the definitions of genres and does what arts do best – expresses life’s truths.”
Issie Barratt, award-winning composer & educator
As 2018 draws to a close, vocalist and composer Jessica Radcliffe releases her debut album, Remembrance, marking the end of the First World War centenary. Based on her in-depth study of the devastating event through music, poetry, reports, letters and other historical documents, Radcliffe’s original compositions and arrangements create a moving tribute.
Radcliffe began composing the music for The Remembrance Project in her final year at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. “At the beginning of the WWI centenary period in 2014, I realised that I knew little about the conflict, and, having enjoyed studying the poetry of the Great War for A Level English, challenged myself to compose some pieces for my composition module,” explains Radcliffe. The pieces ‘Remembrance’, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, ‘There’s A Long, Long Trail A-Winding’. ‘Over The Top’ and ‘And When They Ask Us’, made up Radcliffe’s final performance, for which she received a First. The album was completed following an emotional visit to the Western Front. “I needed to walk in their footsteps and see all of these places I’d been reading about for a year come to life. I wanted to present something entirely focused on the humanitarian struggles during the conflict.”
Remembrance draws on a range of influences and styles form all aspects of Radcliffe’s musical journey as well as some of the most poignant literature from the conflict. ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, one of Radcliffe’s favourite poems by Wilfred Owen for the strikingly onomatopoeic language is a directed group improvisation; for the title track Radcliffe re-harmonised The Last Poet and set a section of Robert Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen and the music echoes the music of the classical composers of the time, Vaughan Williams and Butterworth; ‘I Would Rather Be A Rebel’ is dedicated to the struggle of Emeline Pankhurst with lyrics selected from her most famous speeches and the finale is taken from the musical Oh What A Lovely War! “I included it in the set to acknowledge the fact that there is such a rich heritage of works on and about the conflict,” says Radcliffe. “There are still so many lessons to learn and as time goes on, new relevance and poignancies can be drawn.”