IN 1916, 650 Salford men, most of whom part of the Salford Pals battalion, died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Friday, July 1 marked the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and the University of Salford paid tribute to those who lost their lives in what has been described as “one of the bloodiest battles in human history”.

The University invited members of the public to a series of free concerts taking place on campus, jointly organised by the University, BBC Philharmonic, Salford City Council and the Lancashire Fusiliers.

The concerts began with the Salford Schools Commemorative Music Performance at Peel Hall, performed by children from Moorside High School, Swinton High School and St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School.

Led by Professor Stephen Davismoon, Professor of Music at the University, the pupils performed compositions inspired by popular tunes of the day, including It’s A Long Way to Tipperary and the Pals March.

The concert also featured performances by groups from Salford’s Music and Performing Arts Service (MAPAS).

The day also featured a world première of a moving musical tribute to the thousands killed in the Battle of the Somme.

God’s Own Caught in No Man’s Land, specially commissioned by Professor Stephen Davismoon and performed by the BBC Philharmonic, was played at the University’s Maxwell Hall.

The performance featured a full orchestra, choir, narrator, mezzo-soprano soloist as well as the playing of soundscapes connected to the Salford Pals.

These sounds include:

  • the creaking floorboards of Salford Lads’ Club – used as a recruiting station
  • the peal of bells at Sacred Trinity Church – the parish church of the Pals
  • natural sounds from The Cliff in Broughton, Conwy Morfa, Catterick, and Whitley Bay – where the young soldiers carried out their training
  • sounds captured from locations in the Somme connected to the Pals

Professor Stephen Davismoon discussed the day and God’s Own Caught in No Man’s Land with Quays News reporter Andrew Riley.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

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