Young musicians from the Isle of Man are to take part in the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate war memorial.
The 58-strong Manx Youth Orchestra will visit the memorial near Ypres on the last night of a tour of Belgium (20th to 24th July).
Each evening at the Menin Gate, local firefighters play the Last Post as a tribute to the dead of World War One. It’s a tradition that began in 1928 and ceased only during the German occupation of the area during World War Two. Last Thursday (9th July) saw the 30,000th performance of the Last Post at the memorial. On occasion, the ceremony is extended with the contributions of visiting choirs and orchestras.
Maggie Richardson, Head of Music Service with the Department of Education and Children, said:
‘As we mark the centenary of World War One, it will be a huge honour for our young people to take part in this moving and timeless ceremony.
‘Members of the brass section will play the Manx National Anthem and Ellan Vannin and orchestra leader Tom Shirtliff and principal clarinettist Kyra Morphet will lay a wreath.’
Maggie, who conducts the orchestra, said:
‘We will also be laying a wreath at Tyne Cot, the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Ypres, where there are Manx graves and Manx servicemen remembered.’
During its tour, the orchestra – made up of students aged 12 to 19 – will perform at St Michielskerk, Ghent, on Belgium’s Independence Day (21st July) as a part of the city’s summer festival. It will also give concerts at Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) in De Panne and at the Grote Markt (Market Place) in Ypres.
The orchestra will visit the In Flanders Fields museum and enjoy sightseeing.
‘We are grateful to the Friends of the Manx Youth Orchestra, who have ensured all our players can take part in the tour so we have a musically balanced group.
‘Special thanks go to Adrian Higgins, company director of Specsavers Isle of Man, who held a dinner and raised £920 to be used for our museum entries and other activities.’