The Old School proudly announces three evenings of music, prose and poetry spanning the first half of the 20th century

Historic events of war and empire, recurring seasonal phenomena, and the eternal expressions of love, friendship and passion – all of life is observed and often seen through the eyes and ears of the “little man”, simply trying to survive the tidal wave of global forces and aspiring to human love and happiness.

This retrospective view of life, of who and what we are, presents a rare opportunity to savour our heritage, to laugh at the comic and shed a tear at the tragic acts which make us both human and British. Quite simply three evenings not to be missed!

Wednesday 18 July Supper Concert 1
1900 to 1918

The century opens with the Empire at its height and the Relief of Mafeking, Land of Hope & Glory by Elgar and The road to Mandelay. Aviation is all the rage, as is Ragtime with Scott Joplin’s great The Entertainer. Sherlock Holmes appears on the scene. The innocence of children is idolised in the creation of Peter Rabbit, Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan and the song Two little boys. Romantic love and broken hearts were the subjects of countless thousands of popular songs such as Love’s old sweet song and Love, here is my heart.

The outbreak of The Great War in 1914 produced many songs sung by the troops to keep their spirits up, such as It’s a long way to Tipperary; love songs like Roses of Picardy became more poignant for home as the war lengthened; and Ivor Novello’s patriotism gave birth to Keep the home fires burning. Letters to home from the trenches speak of food parcels and mundane things. Finally, when it was all over, those who were left had to pick up the pieces of their lives but the age of optimism and innocence has passed and the new, more cynical age of the 20s was born.

Wednesday 25 July Supper Concert II
1920’s and 30’s

The age of the great musical dawns with Showboat and Porgy & Bess. Winnie the Pooh makes his first appearance; and the forever sunny, one dimensional world of Bertie Wooster is reflected in Noel Coward’s witty & sophisticated songs such as Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Gracie Fields, becomes a great film star & has major hits with Sally and Sing as we go.

The sunny mood changes with The Wall Street Crash, the start of the Great Depression and the rise of the Nazis. Love is still very much in the air, thanks to Cole Porter, several of whose songs we shall hear, and Edward VIII gives up his crown for it. 1939 sees the start of World War II but also the Wizard of Oz and Over the rainbow.

Wednesday 1 August Supper Concert III
The 1940’s

June 1940 Winston Churchill: “This was their finest hour.” Food rationing – Potato Pete & Doctor Carrot. Myra Hess inspires Londoners with her concerts of classical music at The National Gallery. Acute awareness of how life may be cut short fuels passions, marriages take place with amazing speed and some truly great love songs are written: As time goes by and We’ll gather lilacs reflect this longing for a future together. May 8 1945 is VE Day.

Although the dropping of the Atom Bombs in Japan sees the end of the War, there are other difficulties to contend with: the Iron Curtain begins to descend, the great freeze of 1947 sets in, the people of Berlin are besieged and have to be supplied by air, and there is continuing food rationing at home. However, alongside these difficulties, some marvellous popular music is being created by Cole Porter, Ivor Novello and Richard Rodgers. We celebrate with songs from Carousel, Kiss me Kate, King’s Rhapsody and, finally, that great optimistic, bouncing show Oklahoma .