"The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession: the deeds of its people are"

Howard Goodall’s The Ordinary Heroes of Postman's Park will receive its world premiere at a special gala concert at Cadogan Hall on 16 June. The 12-minute orchestral piece will be performed by the English Chamber Orchestra, who commissioned the piece, and conducted by Andrew Litton.

The title evokes a 1900 monument by renowned painter/sculptor George Frederic Watts in London’s Postman’s Park, the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, which honours ordinary people who lost their lives aiding others, who might otherwise be forgotten. Goodall’s piece also pays tribute to extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice and bravery by ordinary people, reflected in the naming of the piece’s three movements: ‘Courage’, ‘Remembrance’ and ‘Peace’. The gala concert will raise money for NHS Charities Together, and the concert is supported by the Barratt Foundation. 

Howard Goodall writes:

The Ordinary Heroes of Postman's Park is a musical response to the artists G.F. and Mary Watts' poignant memorial that stands in the square of that name. When the English Chamber Orchestra approached me to write for them a piece in 2021 that it planned to premiere in June 2022, the same month as Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, it felt like the perfect opportunity to compose a musical tribute to the ordinary people named on the tablets.

At the time of the commissioning, public discussion had returned to the memorial and whether new names should be added to it in our time, such as that of Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who died saving the life of a woman who fell into the Thames at London Bridge in April 2021. The memorial spot was well chosen, since the tranquil park was so named after the workers of the nearby General Post Office, who would spend their lunch breaks there in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The work is prefaced by the words of Watts himself, "The material prosperity of a nation is not an abiding possession: the deeds of its people are".

In 2020/21 Goodall composed Never to Forget for the London Symphony Chorus, which paid tribute to the healthcare workers who lost their lives in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. His new post-pandemic cantata, Unconditional Love, also pays tribute to the NHS through its setting of Michael Rosen’s poem ‘These are the Hands’ – written for its 60th anniversary.

Details and tickets here.