Concert for Cooperation will be backed by a global orchestra

Poignant music and falling poppies to mark Armistice Centenary

Date posted

24 October 2018


A violinist will lead an international orchestra and cascading poppies will be projected across campus buildings as Edinburgh Napier University marks the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Acclaimed fiddler Thoren Ferguson will play his specially-commissioned score ‘Armistice’ at the Concert for Cooperation on Sunday 11 November.

Thoren Ferguson sitting on sycamore tree and Lewis Kelly standing, both playing violins

And modern technology and social media platforms will allow musicians from across the world to play in unison with his performance, streamed live from the Craiglockhart campus, once the site of a military hospital for shell-shocked officers.

Armistice, scored on the Wilfred Owen violin made from a branch of an old sycamore tree which still grows in the Craiglockhart grounds, will be played at the climax of the November 11 concert at 3pm GMT.

Later, as darkness falls, a projection of cascading poppies will light up Craiglockhart and the university’s other campuses at Merchiston and Sighthill. 

The free Craiglockhart concert, which starts at 1.45pm, will also see performances from George Watson’s College Symphony Orchestra, Thoren and fellow fiddlers Steve Burnett and Lewis Kelly, and war poetry recitals from pupils at Sighthill and Colinton Primary Schools and Tynecastle High.

Advanced audio-visual streaming technology (LOLA) will be used to project additional performances by university students and Tynecastle pupils to the Craiglockhart audience from the Merchiston campus and from Edinburgh’s French Institute.

LOLA – LOw LAtency audio and video streaming - enables online interaction to happen in real time without the time delay associated with popular systems like Skype, which would make musical collaboration from different locations impossible.

Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The concert will prove a powerful and emotive event where musicians from across the globe will play in unison in the spirit of cooperation, commemoration and peace using modern technology.

Poppies projected on to Craiglockhart building

“It is a great privilege for Edinburgh Napier University to host the central concert on November 11, which will bring a rich repertoire of talent together for this very special event.”

University of Aberdeen lecturer Neil McLennan, who instigated the project, said: “As we go forward, a symbol which both ‘remembers’ the First World War and shows we have learned the lesson of war, must be a fitting legacy for those who fell. We owe it to them to take the torch, not of conflict but of cooperation.”

War poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met at the Craiglockhart military hospital, and the university campus now hosts the War Poets Collection, featuring more than 600 items relating to the history of the site. 

As well as the Concert for Cooperation, the university is involved in a series of other events commemorating the centenary of the Armistice.

Craiglockhart will host the launch of the specially commissioned Scotland’s War tartan, designed by Hamish Carruthers, at 7pm on Thursday November 1.

The campus will also be the setting for a special free screening of digitally restored 1923 British silent film A Couple of Down and Outs, directed by Walter Summers.  The film, starring Edna Best, Rex Davis and George Foley and described as “the original War Horse”,  tells the story of a jobless veteran who rescues his old horse from being sent to slaughter, and will be screened on Thursday November 15 at 7pm.

The university is also proud to have worked in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh, Scottish Poetry Library, Dignity Funerals Ltd, National Library of Scotland and City of Edinburgh Council to install a permanent memorial to Scottish poets from World War One in recognition of their bravery and sacrifice. It will be unveiled in Makars’ Court, Edinburgh, at 10.15am on Friday 23 November.