Chelmsford has not forgotten its men taken in the Great War

100 musicians from five Chelmsford schools performed ‘The Violin’ –   a work inspired by a First World War Soldier, Private Burchell, and his Violin.

Private Burchell’s family will never forget hearing the Violin again.

Private Burchell’s grandson, Alan, and granddaughter Adele and other family members travelled from Cornwall to hear the concert. Alan said “This cherished violin not only came home from the trenches as a soldier’s memento, but also survived World War Two when my grandfather lost not one, but two, homes during the Blitz.

“My parents, my sister Adele and my children all feel so proud and very honoured that time and money was spent on restoring Albert’s violin to be played at such a poignant centenary Remembrance concert. We are so thrilled that this small battered and scratched instrument not only survived, but will be heard again after one hundred years. We are looking forward to honouring his memory with this small but important piece of our country’s history.”
The Violin was created and performed by the young musicians with composer John K Miles in a concert on Wednesday 7 November in Chelmsford’s Cathedral. The * five schools formed an orchestra and choir and performed with City of London Sinfonia, a leading chamber orchestra, directed by Miles. The now restored soldiers’ violin was performed throughout the world premiere of this original work by young violinist Iris Heij from Boswell School.

The Violin musically describes the story of Private Burchell and his violin, which both made the journey to the Front Line of the Great War, through many battles and ultimately a safe return home to look forward to future peace. The areas of Europe where he fought with dates are etched on the back of the violin in Burchell’s hand.

After Burchell’s passing in 1999, his family very kindly donated his violin to the Essex Regiment Museum.

When the idea of using Burchell’s violin in a concert was discussed, Major Peter Williamson, Chairman of Trustees of the Essex Regiment Museum, contacted the family and added  “We are delighted that one of our most interesting museum exhibits is being brought back to life in a way that reminds all of us alive today of the sacrifices made by so many who have fought for our freedom over the years.”
Grandson Alan Burchell said “I have vivid memories of my grandfather Albert Burchell playing this violin to me when I was a young boy – he and his wife were evacuated to the Lizard in Cornwall during World War Two and remained there for the rest of their days.”

Private Burchell’s son David and his daughter-in-law Jo are now both in their late 80s and they have their own memories of Albert playing this violin when they were engaged in the early 1950s.

After the concert, The Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Yvonne Spence, said, “This was a wonderful way to remember those in the First World War, serving and supporting the Armed Forces, and their families left at home. Thanks to all involved –

Composer John K Miles commented “It was, as I said at the concert last night, a genuine privilege to be part of such a memorable event, at the heart of a community, with musicians ranging from beginner to top flight professional.”

Valerie Tinker, Culture and Community Engagement Lead, Essex County Council said “A truly remarkable evening, great to see all the young people involved and a new composition that won’t now leave my head! I know how much work goes into such events, so thank you all.”

The concert also included poetry readings by students who entered the Chelmsford Festival of Ideas Peace Poetry Competition. Young students also introduced the music by the CLS of works written by wartime composers including Holst, Ravel, Vaughan Williams and George Butterworth.

The retiring collection in aid of the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity, raised a significant amount of money.

The concert is one of a number of events taking place across Chelmsford to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and to remember all those who made sacrifices. For further information, please visit

Chelmsford Remembers Them was produced by Orchestras Live and Essex Music Education Hub in partnership with City of London Sinfonia, Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Cultural Development, Chelmsford Theatres, Essex Regiment Museum, Chelmsford Ideas Festival and Chelmsford Civic Society.

For more information please contact:- Sam Dordoy, Communications Manager, Chelmsford City Council T: 01245 606459 E:
*Five schools from Chelmsford – Boswells School, Chelmsford County High School for Girls, The Sandon School, Great Baddow High School, Hylands School