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Never Such Innocence: a narrative recital of words and music from WWI

25th November 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

£0.01 – £15

Introduced by Vera Brittain’s daughter, Baroness (Shirley) Williams

Described by the BBC’s Katie Derham as “incredibly moving”, an acclaimed, sell-out live narrative recital of words and music from the First World War, with Christopher Kent (actor) and Gamal Khamis (pianist), plus photos and a viewing of various artifacts over a glass of wine.

Pte. Percy O’Key

One hundred years after the devastating events of the First World War, and with Europe again facing a time of uncertainty, Christopher Kent and Gamal Khamis look back at the writing and music that emerged from the period, juxtaposing the words of writers such as Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon, Vera Brittain, Philip Larkin and Isaac Rosenberg (on what would have been his birthday) with piano music by composers including Arnold Schoenberg, Elgar, Ravel, Debussy, Frank Bridge and Ivor Gurney.

In a moving and thought-provoking sequence, they also trace a narrative from the early innocence of pre-war life, though initial patriotic optimism to the deep sadness and loss that followed across Europe, while also following the individual story of nineteen year-old conscript Private Percy O’Key through his real-life letters and diaries, which you will be given the opportunity to view. It is a compelling journey from innocence to loss, told with unflinching clarity and compassion.

Audience comments from previous performances:

“An incredibly moving performance”
(Katie Derham, BBC Radio 3)
“A spell-binding evening. So compelling to watch and listen to”
“Beautifully nuanced show – tender, moving, angry”
“The choice of poetry and music was perfect and the narrative and underlying story very moving… I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.”


Christopher Kent has appeared on stage, screen and radio in a wide range of roles. London theatre appearances have included Cyrano de Bergerac with Robert Lindsay at the Theatre Royal Haymarket and The Government Inspector with Timothy Spall at Greenwich Theatre. He is also one of the UK’s best-known voiceover actors. Recent concert work includes poetry readings with the Orlando Choir, the Bridge String Quartet and A River of Music, and the Voice of God in Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde.


Gamal Khamis studied at the Royal College of Music. He first performed at the Wigmore Hall at the age of ten, and has since appeared at most of the major UK concert halls across Europe, the USA and Canada, and on BBC Radio 3 and Dutch radio. He has worked with leading composers including Thomas Adès and Mark Anthony Turnage and has been a Concordia Foundation Artist since 2010, a Park Lane Group Artist since 2013, and is a member of the Lipatti Piano Quartet.


Baroness Williams writes: “I am pleased to hear from the New London Synagogue, especially at a time when co-operation and friendship between different faiths is so important. My own background is Anglican, Catholic and Jewish, my brother having married a very distinguished member of the Sephardic sect. The programme you outlined is compelling and I would very much welcome taking part in this special evening, and hope you would not mind me making a few remarks to say a little bit about my own background in the two World Wars, with regard to my own parents and family.  I am both moved and honoured by your invitation, which I very much appreciate.”




Minimum donation £12.50 members, £15 non-members or £20 on the door.


25th November 2018
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
£0.01 – £15
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