VE Day Closed-Door Concert with Katherine Jenkins

04 May 2020

For the first time in its 150-year history, the world-famous Royal Albert Hall plays host to a very special concert behind closed doors, set to boost the morale of millions of people worldwide.

The event will mark the VE Day 75th anniversary on Bank Holiday, Friday 8 May, while bringing together countless nations affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. International Mezzo Soprano Katherine Jenkins, the biggest selling classical artist of the century, will perform on the Royal Albert Hall stage to an empty auditorium. The half-hour concert will be streamed to audiences around the world via YouTube at 6pm BST and is the first performance of the #RoyalAlbertHome series to come from the Hall itself. It follows on from Katherine’s successful at-home lockdown concerts which have amassed over 2 million streams to date.

This unique concert is made possible by funding from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as part of #LondonTogether, and will be introduced with a video message from the Mayor. #LondonTogether invites Londoners to highlight great examples of positive community action and gives much deserved appreciation for the work of our health and care staff, emergency services, key workers and volunteers.

The event is in support of the Royal Albert Hall’s fundraising appeal and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity’s Emergency Response Fund.

In London on VE Day 1945, over a million people celebrated Victory in Europe and the end of nearly six years of war. Crowds gathered en masse in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace and whilst we may not be able to celebrate this year as we once did, it’s only right that we don’t allow the 75th anniversary of this historic day to be overshadowed. Having been part of the 60th and 70th events, I wanted to do something to help bring the nation and the world together in commemoration and celebration at this difficult time.

I’m excited that we can still come together, albeit virtually, for a tribute of wartime songs and musical memories from London’s most iconic concert venue. The Royal Albert Hall will be seen like never before – empty, isolated and yet still breathtakingly magnificent!

- Katherine Jenkins, OBE, Singer

In this, her 46th appearance at the Hall, Katherine Jenkins will sing wartime favourites including ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’ and ‘We’ll Meet Again’; the latter performed as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn. The timeless song, featuring the lyrics, ‘I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’, epitomised the emotions of the war and brought people hope and a sense of togetherness. Today, they ring true for families around the world separated from loved ones at this time of crisis. The performance will close with a rendition of ‘Jerusalem’, one of Britain’s best-loved hymns.

I'll never forget how ‘We’ll Meet Again” meant so much to all those soldiers going off to war as well as with their families and sweethearts. Seventy-five years since the end of the war in Europe, the virus has given those lyrics a whole new meaning. I have found the nation’s renewed love for the song very moving.  I hope this special duet lifts the spirits of our VE Day Veterans and all those separated from loved ones at this time.

- Dame Vera Lynn, Singer and SSAFA Ambassador

The concert will give the nation a moment to pay tribute to the fallen men and women of the Second World War and salute the country’s VE Day Veterans, many of whom are experiencing uncertainty and isolation. It is also our opportunity to thank the Armed Forces who, alongside the NHS and many others, are coming together to serve the country.

This year and every year, VE Day invites us to reflect on the immense contribution the men and women of our Armed Forces make to keep us safe. I hope audiences across London and around the world join together to enjoy this unique celebration and donate if they can to SSAFA’s Emergency Response Fund in honour of their incredible contribution to our country.

- Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London


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