Everything about this evening was inspirational and original. The moment fiddler extraordinaire Sam Sweeney bought the violin from Oxford luthier Roger Claridge he rightly recognised it contained a story worth exploring and sharing.

Claridge had bought the violin in pieces in a manila envelope from a sale room and when he eventually put it together, he realised it was something special. The man who had created the parts was Robert Spencer Howard, a music hall violinist in Leeds, who had stuck his maker’s label on the wood together with the flags of Britain, France and Russia and the inscription Made in the Great War. He left it in his workshop to complete when he got home – but he was killed at Messine in Flanders and it was 90 years before his fiddle found its voice and a young man, Sweeney, to do it justice.

Sam Sweeney, with multi-instrumentalists Rob Harbron and Paul Sartin and storyteller Hugh Lupton, cleverly set their scene with music and songs that bridged the folk/military divide, and created the social atmosphere of the time. Lupton told stories of heroism and remembrance. The touch was light but never flippant.

Then with music, songs, film and words, and superb lighting effects by Emma Thompson, not forgetting the contributions of sound engineer Andy Bell, Richard Howard’s story unfolded. It was captivating and incredibly moving: the audience was mesmerised.

The last filmed scene, of Sweeney playing Howard’s fiddle beside the maker’s gravestone in a military cemetery, finally leaning the instrument against the stone, was almost unbearably poignant.