MyShrewsReviews: A Shropshire Lad for Remembrance
09 Nov 2022

My Shrewsbury reviewer Andrew Petch attended a beautiful concert for Remembrance Week at St Alkmund's Church featuring Shrewsbury School pupil Reuben Lindsay-Bowen and accompanist Callum Alger and readings from Andrew Bannerman

Remembrance Week, that important time in the national calendar, was observed on Tuesday, November 8 in Shrewsbury’s St. Alkmund’s Church. The programme, organised by the indefatigable pair of Jeremy Lund and Caroline Thewles, was a dignified, reflective occasion.

A.E. Housman’s poems from A Shropshire Lad were the perfect choice, and some of George Butterworth’s settings, sung movingly by Reuben Lindsay-Bowen immediately after the reading of the verse, only served to emphasise the beauty of Housman’s writing.

Andrew Bannerman, who is well-known and respected by Shropshire audiences, was the reader; Andrew also wrote and delivered a linking narrative. This was valuable in describing the poet’s somewhat strange life and the remarkable fact that the poems were written in 1896 yet have always seemed associated with the two unspeakable wars in the first half of the twentieth century.

Whether reading as the eerie voice of the ghost, the melancholy voice for: “In summertime on Bredon”, or the valedictory cadences of the final verse - “I hoed and trenched and weeded”, Mr. Bannerman gave every moment of the poems the ideal delivery. There was no sentimentality in his performance; the hush before the final applause was a tribute to this moving, dignified rendition.

Although Housman himself disliked the idea of his poems being set to music, George Butterworth’s settings are exquisite. Three of them were sung by Reuben Lindsay-Bowen, accompanied by Callum Alger.

Reuben has a beautiful voice with a strong sense of the dramatic while Mr. Alger played the sparse, atmospheric accompaniment with great sensitivity. The songs were well chosen; “When I was one-and-twenty”, “Is my team ploughing” and “The lads in their hundreds to Ludlow come in for the fair” were proof that Butterworth captured the musicality of the poetry so evocative of our lovely County.  Worth mentioning that Butterworth himself was killed in 1916.

This was a fine lunchtime programme to reflect on Remembrance.