Celebrating 75 years of the Liberation of Jersey
Being asked to write a new piece for such a special occasion for the island I call home has been a huge honour. It is too little-known that the Channel Islands were only liberated by Allied forces on the 9th of May, 1945, after victory had been declared in the rest of Europe. Remnants of the long and arduous Nazi Occupation are abundant here: just today, I found the detonated shell of a bomb while walking on the beach. Islanders suffered a unique period of modern history in an outpost which was exceptionally well-defended, and dangerous to attempt to invade before the end of the war, whilst in practice existing under siege following D-Day, to be thankfully given welcome relief through Red Cross aid.
This year's 75th Liberation Day was always going to be special, with many discussing its importance as one of the last significant dates in the living memory of a large number of Occupation survivors. But no-one could have predicted the ways in which celebrations would need to adapt to new restrictions due to the sudden spread of the Coronavirus.
I wanted to create something unique for the event, and spent a great deal of time researching the history of the Occupation in depth, through first hand accounts, diaries, and newspapers, interviews with Occupation survivors, and more recent historical accounts and analysis. The tasks of choosing the lyrics, finding a way to print music on top of new artistic impressions of the island, finalising the book-binding of the score, and recording a children's choir remotely due to Covid-19 restrictions, were all far from simple, and led me to make a short documentary about how this collaborative effort was accomplished:
Our recording of the final production of 'Faithful and Free' (2020) for SSSAAA choir and strings, with images and score in 4K, is below: