Band Forum planning to mark Somme and Rising with unique commemorative work

Soldiers of the Royal Irish Rifiles pictured during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.
Soldiers of the Royal Irish Rifiles pictured during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916.

The Londonderry Bands Forum is calling for groups interested in putting forward ideas and plans for this year’s commemorations events to join them at a meeting in St Columb’s Park House, Londonderry on Tuesday, January 19 2016 at 7.30pm.

Bands forum coordinator, Derek Moore, has arranged the meeting after discussions with various individuals and groups who were unsure or unaware of how to go about accessing funding that will be available from the city council or other government bodies.

He told the Sentinel that some groups had ideas that were very similar and that there was a real risk of duplication in a lot of events.

It was felt that an open meeting that would include members of the Council committee that were helping to organise the commemoration events could streamline groups and individuals and lead to a more coordinated approach.

The Bands Forum is putting forward a very ambitious event that may be one of the only events in both Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland that will attempt to portray the story of both the horrors of the Battle of the Somme and the ambitions of the Easter Rising in one setting.

A centre piece of this event will be a new piece of music that will be performed by an ensemble of local musicians similar to that assembled for the two Walled City Tattoos. Local playwright Jonathan Burgess and the Blue Eagle Production team are hopefully writing and performing a series of theatrical vignettes that will tell the story from all sides and will use the experiences of two local bandsmen, one loyalist, one nationalist who found themselves at the Somme for completely opposing reasons.

These vignettes will be interspersed with music from the period that enhances this unique approach to the commemorations.

The Londonderry Bands Forum is urging anyone with an interest in or an idea for commemorating the centenary of the Somme to come along to the event and air their views.

All groups or individuals who may have ideas also, but who need a bit of help or just a sounding board for their project are invited to come along on Tuesday, January 19 to St Columb’s Park House at 7.30pm for advice.

The Londonderry Bands Forum will be contacting as many groups as they can but for those who have had no contact with us in the past details can be obtained by calling on 02871343080 or email derek@stcolumbsparkhouse.org

2016 marks the centenary - within the space of just a few months of one another - of pivotal historical events informing the identity of many people throughout Northern Ireland, namely the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising.