RCS collaborates over shining example of Scottish culture

Heartfelt World War II letters, penned by Dennis Marshall to his fiancée back home, inspired his grandson, Tom Poulson, and RCS staff to collaborate on a new work for trumpet and narration that is to be held up as a beacon of Scotland’s culture – Mark Good brings this moving story

Cooped up in his military vehicle crawling across Europe amid the horrors of World War II, Dennis Marshall penned a series of letters to his fiancée hundreds of miles away.

Decades later, the heartfelt correspondence has provided the inspiration for a performance piece, The Last Post, featuring the grandson of Dennis, which offers a personal insight into the conflict and is to be showcased to producers around the World through Creative Scotland’s Made in Scotland showcase and held up as a shining example of Scotland’s cultural output.

Providing the impetus for the work, the grandson of Dennis, 30-year- old trumpet player and Royal Conservatoire Scotland (RCS) graduate, Tom Poulson, is the same age his grandfather was when the letters were written. After graduating, Tom wanted to develop a piece that took his instrument ‘in a different direction’ and found the perfect source material close to home.

Said Tom: “As a trumpet player, I had been thinking about the instrument and its association with wars and battles, whether providing a call-to-action or being used at the most sombre moments of remembrance.

“I spoke to my parents about where I was heading with the piece and that’s when they mentioned the letters from my grandfather. He had only met my grandmother, Barbara, a couple of weeks before he started writing to her when he had been on leave in Sussex. He was a pacifist, but he was a socialist too and felt it was his duty to do something, so he left behind life as a trainee teacher to become a…

Read this article in full, featured in July/August 2017’s BBW, by subscribing to BBW Digital. Alternatively, subscribe to the printed magazine delivered by post: £40 (UK); £68 (Europe); £81 (Rest of the World)

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