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Musical of World War I hero soldier comes to the Fringe
6:00am Friday 16th May 2014 in News
The relative of a soldier who died in the First World War has put his letters to music.
Royal Opera House baritone Nigel Cliffe’s great-great uncle Private Joe Wood fought in 1917 at Passchendaele, one of the most horrific campaigns of the war.
Private Wood, 19, from Huddersfield, served in the Leicester Regiment. Before his death on September 26 he wrote two letters home to his sister Mary Cliffe, Nigel’s grandmother.
In the first letter, sent in late August, he asked after his girlfriend and in the second sent in early September he said that he was suffering from stress and “completely done in now”.
He asked if Mary and his other sister Carrie could club together to send him a “home-made package” as he had lost his purse, money and cigarettes.
He wrote: “Hoping you will please send me a nice-sized parcel, as you know Mary we boys want looking after, as we are in France fighting for you at home, so I hope you will please send one straight away.”
However before the package arrived, he was killed in battle.
Mr Cliffe, who has performed for the Royal Opera House for 15 years, will perform the words to the letters verbatim, complete with grammatical mistakes.
He said: “These are the words of a normal soldier.
“Young men like him with little experience went off to a conflict the like of which had never been seen before. Many of them didn’t come home.
“For me this is a personal memorial for a member of my family.”
A Letter From Private Joe was first performed in 2000 and comes to the Brighton Fringe Festival this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war. It is part of the Sounds of War – Instruments of Peace series.
The piece, featuring music written especially by composer Roxanna Panufnik, will be the focal point of the Heath Quartet’s performance at St Nicholas Church tomorrow at 19.30pm.
Tickets are £15, with the first 50 tickets free for under-25s.
You can also show your copy of The Argus for a two-for-one offer (£7.50 a ticket).
To book visit boxoffice.brightonfringe.org.
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