Wednesday, 27 August 2014


The Angel of Mons world premiere was a resounding success on Saturday night. A capacity crowd and standing ovation proved to me that the new work captures the spirit of the WWI centenary. The players and singers were all so gifted and showed so much goodwill - a huge thank you to everyone involved!

Sopranos: Elizabeth Adams, Harriet Astbury, Shona Astbury, Emily Wilsea
Altos: Nick Robinson, Emma Wragg, Chlรถe Pardoe, Hilary Punnett
Tenor: Cameron Richardson-Eames, Martin Pickering, Mark Wilde
Bass: Johnnie Riches, Padraig Staunton, Tim Emberson, Sachin Gunga

Orchestra: Caroline Siriwardena, Clare Bhabra, Kerry-Ann Geary, Hazel Parkes, Sara Chambers, Cassandra Hodgson, Deirdre Bencsik, Glenis Malkin, Ayse Osman, Hugh Webb

Below is a review of the night written my Maxine Adams:

Standing Ovation for World Premiere Performance

The Angel of Mons by Grimsby-born composer Patrick Hawes was received with a standing ovation by a capacity audience at its world premiere performance. The concert at St Michael & All Angels Church Edenham took place on August 23rd 2014, exactly one hundred years since the episode which has inspired its creation.

Much has been documented about the evening of August 23rd 1914, when, during fierce fighting, the Lincolnshire Regiment were among many men to see an Angel-like apparition in the sky and hear a man’s voice commanding them to “Go back, go back.” This event has become known as “The Angel of Mons” and is the only recorded “supernatural” event of the war. Patrick Hawes and his brother Andrew Hawes, librettist, have worked on the assumption that there was an Angel and “understood its intervention to be evidence of God’s pity for his children…”

The Angel of Mons, which formed the second half of the concert, is scored for soprano soloist, choir, strings and harp, and tells the story in six movements, from the optimistic march to Mons, the appearance of the Angel, through to the anxious wait of those left at home. Andrew Hawes’ words capture perfectly the gradual darkening of mood as the men, led off to “fight heroically” become “broken scattered, leaderless and lost”. The Angel is set apart, singing words based on scripture.

Patrick Hawes’ music took the listener on an emotional journey at the end of which it was impossible to remain unaffected. The relentless and sinister beat of the opening march For King and Country gave way to the intimate scoring of Angel’s Charge - a delicate interplay between solo violin and soprano soloist - the Angel. The terrifying March to Mons was dramatically depicted by the full forces of choir and orchestra. There were moments of exquisite beauty in Out of the Depths as the Angel’s voice soared above the choir. Perhaps the most moving section of all was the final movement Let Them Give Thanks Whom The Lord Has Redeemed - the simultaneous singing of Psalm 107 by men’s voices, along with the well known hymn tune Glory to Thee my God, this night, sung by high voices, as the women waited anxiously at home, alone.

Specially formed for the performance, the Edenham Festival Consort was made up of singers and players from around the region, including students from Birmingham Conservatoire and Trinity College Cambridge. The choir sang with a professionalism all the more impressive as they had only come together three days before the concert. The small and extremely able string orchestra was led by Caroline Siriwardena, and special mention must go to harpist Hugh Webb who played such a pivotal role throughout. Soloists were Grace Davidson (soprano), who sang the role of the Angel with breathtaking beauty, Mark Wilde (tenor) and Martin Pickering (baritone) who gave moving performances during the first half of the concert.

In his introduction, Patrick Hawes explained to the audience that he had failed to find a larger stage for the first performance of The Angel of Mons, hence the decision to hold the concert at Edenham. As the last notes drifted away, there was a lengthy, eloquent silence. Judging by the applause and standing ovation that followed, the audience at Edenham felt themselves privileged to have been part of this world premiere performance. 

Friday, 15 August 2014


The WWI Centenary Partnership recently interviewed me about my works connected to The Great War and you can see my interview either by being a member of the partnership and clicking HERE to link to their website:


if you're not a member you can click HERE and use this link to see a copy.

Tickets for the WORLD PREMIERE concert of The Angel of Mons on 23rd August 2014 can be purchase HERE.

Monday, 4 August 2014


On my album Angel there is a track called Out Of The Depths.  This is an excerpt from a larger work called The Angel of Mons and I am writing this blog as the piece is nearing completion.  

Yesterday there was a large article in the Telegraph about 'myths' surrounding the war - I did not even bother to read it because I am well aware of what the doubters say and the elaborate explanations they give to 'prove' that the apparition could not have appeared.  To them I say it is far easier not to believe than to believe.  What would the writer of yesterday's article say if confronted face-to-face by a soldier who fought in the battle of Mons and actually witnessed the angel?  To me, it is entirely feasible that an angel of God should appear at a time of such crisis in the history of mankind.  

While writing this work I have come to feel great empathy with the innocent young men who, on the one hand, were keen to fight for King and Country, and on the other, had no idea whatsoever of the horrors that were to befall them.  My brother's libretto perfectly capture the spirit of optimism which soon became discoloured during the march to Mons; the use of the psalms is a perfect way of connecting with the prayers of both those who fought and those who waited anxiously at home.  

As well as Out Of The Depths the soprano soloist has two other solos - Angel's Charge and Angel's Lament.  One of these is accompanied by solo violin the other by string quartet, and both rely on plainsong.  It is important that the angel is set apart from the rest of the performers, singing words entirely based on scripture.  

I am so looking forward to the premiere on 23rd August which will be the exact centenary of the apparition.  The concert is taking place at my brother's church in Lincolnshire and all profits will go to the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity.

The Angel of Mons concert is on 23rd August 2014 at 7:30pm in St Michael & All Angels Church, Edenham (nr. Bourne), Lincolnshire, PE10 0LS.
Tickets priced at £20, £15 and £10 are available by clicking here.