Benjamin Ellin’s new composition One Before Zero will be performed at Maison de la Culture in Amiens, France, to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. It is a one-movement work for orchestra, solo baritone, solo mezzo soprano and boys’ choir.
One Before Zero tells the story of what soldiers went through in the moments before the battle began, with dialogue in French, English and German. It will be performed by L’Orchestre de Picardie conducted by Arie van Beek and feature Jenaer Philharmonie boy’s choir as well as soloists Ronan Collett and Anne Elizabeth Mason.
‘It’s the time when all that is known can be turned upside down and where a world of emotions dominates the mind and soul of any soldier,’ said Ellin, before adding, ‘I have chosen to end the work with a series of questions asking whether or not we believe as individuals that peace is possible and if so, how it can be achieved collectively.’
Ellin’s work was supported by research at The Imperial War Museum and writer Ben Maier. One Before Zero will be performed on 11 November (Remembrance Day) at Maison de la Culture in Amiens, which is located not far from the WW1 front line. A second performance will take place on 12 November in Beauvais, Maladrerie Saint-Lazare.
Almost one million soldiers were killed during the battle, which lasted from 1 July 1916 to 18 November 1916. It is widely considered as one of the bloodiest and most futile battles in history.