NZ Symphony Orchestra pays beautiful tribute to Battle of the Somme

(The British High Commission / Twitter)
(The British High Commission / Twitter)

The Battle of the Somme was one of history's costliest military campaigns.

More than 2000 Kiwis died and there were one million casualties from other Allied forces and Germany.

To mark the 100 year anniversary, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra is putting on a special performance to accompany an acclaimed film on the battle.

In a first for warfare, the clash was extensively recorded in moving images.

Those came together to form the 1916 silent film The Battle of the Somme.

"Within the first three months of this film coming out, it had been seen by 20 million people in Britain and Ireland," says Jonathan Sinclair, British High Commissioner to New Zealand.

"That was the largest number of people to see a film, until Star Wars in 1977."

To mark the 100 year anniversary, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has partnered with the British High Commission for a special commemoration.

"Some of it's illustrative, other times it's quite atmospheric, and I guess it just gives people a chance to get a better feeling about what these images are telling us and showing us," says CEO Christopher Blake.

The score by British composer Laura Rossi was commissioned 10 years ago for the 90th commemorations.

But this is the first time it's been performed in accompaniment with the recently digitally-restored version of the film.

"It's something that I think will really speak to an audience," Mr Blake says.

The two Wellington shows on Saturday are part of a series of performances planned around the world this year, the biggest to be held at London's Royal Albert Hall on Armistice Day.