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Jocelyn Pook’s Thousands of Leaves sung in Abney Park in special Remembrance Day ceremony

PUBLISHED: 14:34 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:36 13 November 2018

The Remembrance Day service in Abney Park. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

The Remembrance Day service in Abney Park. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew

Dozens of children, adults, and a fair few dogs gathered in Abney Park or a special Remembrance Day ceremony to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

A choir performs Thousands of Leaves at the Remembrance Day service in Abney Park. Picture: Katrina BerryA choir performs Thousands of Leaves at the Remembrance Day service in Abney Park. Picture: Katrina Berry

Stoke Newington locals united to produce the line-up of folk, classical music and poetry at the war memorial in the Stoke Newington cemetery.

The Volunteers band started the service with two folk songs, Green Fields of France and When Will I Ever Be Simple Again? before several other folk songs from Romania, Macedonia and Serbia.

The crowd then observed two minutes silence which came to an end with Colin Emrich Fisher playing The Last Post.

One of the organisers and Hackney Song Works choir member Tania Rice, told the crowd: “I don’t know why any of you are here - you each have your personal reasons.

A choir performs Thousands of Leaves at the Remembrance Day service in Abney Park. Picture: Katrina BerryA choir performs Thousands of Leaves at the Remembrance Day service in Abney Park. Picture: Katrina Berry

“Certainly for me it’s to remember what a chronic waste the war was. Radio 4 have been reading out letters from the time all week and one I remember in particular was from a man who was at the front when the armistice was declared.

“Whilst everyone at home went mad - dancing and singing and apparently trying to rip the clothes off soldiers - in the trenches they were suddenly at a complete loss what to do. There were no celebrations. That’s a moment which shows what a terrible, terrible waste the war was.

“Certainly for us, we are here to honour the dead and to be very grateful for the peace that we have been able to enjoy.”

A choir then sung Thousands of Leaves, composed by BAFTA award-winning local resident Jocelyn Pook, who was in the audience.

The performers had sung the song on the Barbican stage two weeks ago in the production Memorial, which was part of the UK’s official arts programme for the First World War centenary.

To make up for the noise of a helicopter overhead the first time around, Thousands of Leaves was performed again at the end of the service.

“We loved that there was a gust of wind when we sung the song, and all the leaves started to flutter down,” Tania told the Gazette afterwards.

“More and more people started to sing along when we did the reprise which was moving.

“We had a very lovely time down the pub afterwards and one of the things said was that we would do it again. We did it from wanting to perform the music and we were quite moved that we filled a need, and that people wanted to gather and do that.”

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