posted by Glenn Barton

When the 'whole' exceeds the 'sum of it's parts'

I have recently had the honour of producing the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance for 2015.  And it struck me that this process was an example of when nothing - and no-one - is bigger than the event itself, and what it stands for.

Over a period stretching back about seven months (and 71 working days) I had the privilege of working with some of the broadcast industry's most talented technicians, floor managers, directors, and producers.  Not to mention the multitude of meetings and dialogue with the cream of our country's military ceremonial units - the precision and discipline of the RAF, Royal Marines, Gurkhas and Guards - and of course the Garrison Sergeant Major.  On top of that was the pure brilliance of the Festival's Director of Music who scored some of the most powerful orchestral pieces I've ever heard and never once showed his exasperation when he was asked to "extend that piece", "shorten that one", "what about removing the choir from there".  And for me personally, I was most privileged to bear witness to the bravery of individual members such as those in the Bereaved Families contingent, or the Citation Reader, or the VJ vets.  I could go on, but you get the picture.

The Festival of Remembrance is an event that is made up of hundreds of moving parts, all of which have to come together over a period of two days at the Royal Albert Hall.  If any one of those parts doesn't 'deliver', then the event could easily fall flat on its face.

But it doesn't.  And I think I know why.  Of course, great effort goes into the running order, working out the narrative, finding the right people to participate.  But more than anything, there is something that unites all of us - from cadet volunteer, through to the military and civilian musicians, and on to the event producer.  And that is the fact, that we never forget why we are there. 

No matter how stressful or chaotic it sometimes felt (and it often did, believe me!) there was always that sentence of sanity ringing in my head - "Question: Why are you doing it?  Answer: So we never forget".  An oft used phrase - perhaps over used in some cases - but never more meaningful that at 9pm in the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 7th November this year, when the petals fell into the two minute silence.


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