Bravo to Birralee’s valuable volunteers!

Volunteers are an incredible asset to many community organisations, and for Voices of Birralee, this is no exception. 

We would not achieve what we do without our passionate volunteers – they provide a valuable human resource, while using their skills and experience to enhance our activities. They help us build and enrich our Birralee community by bringing their personality and vibrancy to our programs. There are always lots of laughs and fun to be had with our volunteers and we, as an organisation, are truly grateful for their involvement. 

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Our volunteers help across multiple roles:
  • Being a part of our executive, public fund and the Harley Mead Legacy committees 
  • Choir managers 
  • Choir librarians 
  • Choir uniform managers 
  • Assisting with supervision roles for our younger choirs at large events
  • Front of house at concerts – selling tickets, raffle tickets, CDs, assisting at the door, ushering 
  • Stage management, including choir wrangling 
  • Collating the sheet music and start up packs for the start of our Birralee year
  • Stuffing information packs for major festivals e.g., Pemulwuy 
  • Working bees at the Birralee venue including sorting the uniform shop 
  • Being involved in fundraising initiatives – donating as well as approaching organisations for support 
  • Transporting choir risers and instruments to concerts 
  • Photography and videography at our concerts 
  • Providing canteen / catering at concerts / festivals 
  • Making the 500 poppies for our Pemulwuy festival 
  • Tour supervisors and all that goes with being a part of a touring team 

In the above roles (and likely more!), our volunteers make such a difference, not just to our choristers’ experiences, but also to our conductors’. Katherine Ruhle, conductor of our youngest ensemble, the Birralee Piccolos explains: 

“I couldn’t do my job without volunteers – they are fantastic! I love that I can focus on the children and their singing while the volunteers quietly look after administration, encourage a tired child to join in, give a thumbs up to a child who is trying their best, clean up the floor when a water bottle is accidentally spilt and are there to answer questions from parents. And you should hear their voices – amazing!  We are so lucky in Piccolos to have such lovely singers support our choir – it means that we can sing in canon and do part work at a very young age. ” 

So, who are some (of our many) valuable volunteers? 

BRIGITTE DEEB 
What is your role at Birralee and when did you start? 
BrigitteAnthony

Brigitte Deeb with her son Anthony. 

I am one of the managers of the Birralee Blokes. I became a volunteer when my son Anthony started in 2007. 

 

Why do you volunteer? 
I volunteer at Birralee as I love being a part of such a wonderful community of people – from staff, to fellow volunteers, to all the wonderful families I have met along the way. I enjoy giving back especially as I see the support given to my son Anthony over the last 10 years as well.

 

What do you do away from Birralee? 
I work part time as a Human Resources Advisor at Powerlink Queensland. Hobbies include cooking, baking and travelling. I also like to support Vision Australia and Guide Dogs as a volunteer. 
 
What value do you think volunteers add to an organisation like Birralee?
I like to think that myself and fellow volunteers add support to staff and choristers at Birralee. Actually, I’m very happy to support in any way I can and feel valued and appreciated if asked to help. Life is very busy, but I feel community organisations, such as Birralee, need the support of volunteers to continue to grow.
 
JAYE CURTIS 

“I currently volunteer as BBV’s librarian. I feel privileged to assist the Artistic Team to do what they do best in providing incredible choral training and inspirational musical experiences. Birralee is an organisation with a voice and heart with values that resonate with my family’s. Having Ellen in Voices and James in Blokes has allowed me to see first hand the thought, effort and genuine care for the choristers’ musical development and wellbeing that Julie, Jenny, Paul and Kate continuously provide. The nice thing about volunteering is that everyone brings something different – from organisational, communication or first aid skills, to a willingness to listen and kindness, to an ability to supply a safety pin when someone’s pants have split just as they are about to go on stage! There is a great sense of teamwork and camaraderie, with lots of laughs and friendships made. As a well established organisation, there are many well thought out protocols and mentoring systems to help volunteers navigate tours and tasks. For me, to travel with these incredible young people along their musical journey is very rewarding. Away from Birralee I work full-time as a Practice Manager at our family psychiatric practice and in my spare time, I love spending time with my family, long walks, painting, illustrating and reading.”

 
MICHAEL MULGREW
Birralee Singers Manager (Saturday) 
When did your involvement with Birralee begin? 
I came to a rehearsal for Piccolos when Kiera was six-years-old in 2012 and we have been with Birralee for five years now.
 
Why did you decide to volunteer? 
I volunteered because I watched how much enjoyment singing gave the children. The passion from the teachers, helpers and young assistants was inspiring. I enjoy how during practice a song will come together and how beautiful it sounds in its final form. 
 
Tell us what else you do – have you done any other volunteering?
I have been a football (soccer) coach for children, over 35’s men and a number of women’s teams. I have also been involved in volunteering work in Peru and Ecuador.
 
What value do you think volunteers add to Birralee? 
I think that the volunteers are a part of the whole team and we have a role to keep calmness when there is madness, support the choristers, while assisting staff. It is very rewarding to be a volunteer with Birralee. You feel that you are contributing in a small way to a great event or performance.
 
MICHELLE FORBES 
What is your role at Birralee and when did you become a volunteer? 
I am the uniform co-ordinator for BBV, Co-Manager along with Tony Forbes MichelleForbes(my clever husband) and a general Jill of all trades when needed. 

I became a volunteer in 2008 when my eldest daughter Shelby was involved in the then, Birralee Southside Singers, when the previous manager stepped down. 

Why do you volunteer and what do you enjoy about being involved with Birralee? 

I volunteer because I love to watch my children and my Birralee families’ children grow with their experiences. I love seeing my children exposed to such amazing opportunities, but most of all we get to spend time as a family.  I also enjoy meeting and interacting with so many clever, talented staff and other volunteers. 
 
Tell us what else you do or if you’ve volunteered previously?  
I am currently a Teaching Assistant at Faith Lutheran College, Redlands and have been for 11 years, mainly working with Prep students. My hobbies include family tree research, dabbling in wooden spoon carving, collecting mid-century modern items that catch my eye and selling other old stuff on eBay (mainly to feed my mid-century modern habit). The other volunteering I’ve done has included as a treasurer and committee member for Safety House (for 10 years), being a school craft group coordinator and with the P&FA committee and school fete. 
 
What value do you think volunteers add to Birralee? 
Volunteers add their individual skills to Birralee, whether a large or small contribution, they are able to be there to support and help in many ways. Volunteering also gives an amazing bird’s eye view of the organisation, plus you get to listen to lovely music. 
 

LOUISE NEWMAN

What is your role at Birralee? 
I am the manager of the Wednesday Piccolos. This is my first year in the role.
 
Why do you volunteer? 
Both my children are in Birralee choirs (one in Piccolos and one in Kids), and so it seemed a good use of my time while they were at rehearsals. I very much enjoy getting to know the Piccolos and their parents, and watching even the most shy Prep-aged child blossom into a confident member of our choir.
 
Tell us what else you do, such as your occupation, hobbies?
I’m an accountant. I have volunteered for other organisations in the past, but usually in a treasury role. I also try to spend time helping out in each of my daughter’s classrooms at school each week.
 
What value do you think volunteers add to an organisation like Birralee? 
I think that having a volunteer around to do tasks such as marking the roll, managing parent and choir members’ queries, uniform fittings, and even just having an extra adult in the classroom allows our conductors to get on with the what they do best – conducting the choir! 
 
Is there anything else you’d like to mention? 

Given I’m not from a musical background, I wasn’t sure if volunteering for Birralee would be the right fit for me. I have absolutely loved my time with the Piccolos each week and I’m looking forward to continuing on next year (if you’ll have me!).

 
***
To all our volunteers who add so much to our organisation, we would like to officially say ‘bravo’! 
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Pemulwuy! National Male Voice Festival wrap!

A huge thanks to everyone involved in Pemulwuy! National Male Voice Festival from 29 June – 2 July!

For those who’d like a recap on the fun and excitement, here’s a behind-the-scenes look on how it all went!

And for those boys and men who weren’t involved, we can’t wait to see you in three years.

Stay up to date via our Pemulwuy Facebook page, or website.

Tell us about your Pemulwuy highlights in the comments below.

Voices of Birralee’s commissioning highlights

Our Voices from the Trenches Choral Festival has provided our organisation another opportunity to commission some incredible Australian composers.

Three pieces were commissioned as part of the Anzac Centenary grant we received from the Queensland Government, while others were funded by our generous Voices of Birralee and greater community via the WW1 Commissioning Project which ran in December last year through Pozible.

The first of these pieces, Heather Percy’s Ne Les Oublions Jamais (Never Forget Them), was premiered at Concert One of Voices from the Trenches in March, while our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir sung the piece throughout France and it quickly became a touring favourite.

A second composition premiered in March was Dan Walker’s arrangement of the WW1 Medley: Good–Byee, It’s A Long Way to Tipperary, Keep The Home Fires Burning and Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag – which was also performed at the most recent Voices from the Trenches Concert on Sunday 28 May.

Another highlight from the 28 May concert was the premiere of The Flower of Youth by Sherelle Eyles, based on the words from ‘A Soldier’s Cemetery’, by John William Streets (killed and missing in action on 1 July 1916, aged 31).

Sherelle noted the inspiration behind this piece: “As any Australian I am appreciative of the fact that there were young men who went to war for the freedom that we now enjoy. It is very difficult to imagine what the men went through, fighting in a foreign land. John William Streets’ poem appealed to me because of the description of the innocence of young men willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom. The opening line conveys a graphic image of a trenched line that is the difference for these brave men between life and death.” 

Another piece commissioned as part of the festival is based upon chorister Joshua Clifford’s poem, Fields of Allonville, which notes the toll on our Anzacs in this small French village. Joshua’s words have been transformed into a beautiful composition by acclaimed composer Joe Twist and will be premiered at the Pemulwuy! National Male Voice Festival, with the finale presented in association with QPAC on 2 July.

Voices of Birralee has always enjoyed drawing upon Australia’s talented composers to produce beautiful music themed towards the organisation’s many programs.

With Pemulwuy! approaching from 29 June – 2 July, we thought we’d note some of the commissioned highlights produced specifically for the festival over the years. Here’s a few standouts (from a wide selection!):

Towards Infinity. This was composed by Paul Jarman originally for Pemulwuy! 2008 and performed by the Adult Choir. After, it was reworked for treble and SATB choirs. Our Brisbane Birralee Voices performed the adapted version during their 2010 European Tour.

View from the Roof. This was composed by Alice Chance for the Birralee Blokes to perform at Pemulwuy! 2014.

Mantra for the Y Generation. Composed by Dan Walker for Pemulwuy! 2008 and performed by the Youth Choir, the Birralee Blokes went on to record this song for their Towards Infinity CD, released by ABC Classics. Listen to the piece here.

Hocket. By Robert Davidson. This was commissioned for the Birralee Blokes for Pemulwuy! 2011. This was an interesting piece without words but was based on sharing melody notes between voice parts, a note or two at a time.

We invite you to enjoy the newly commissioned pieces at our upcoming events via the following: 

Concert Three: Voices from the Trenches, presented in association with QPAC at the Pemulwuy! National Male Voice Festival Finale at 6.30pm Sunday 2 July. Tickets here.

OR…for all the males out there keen to sing some exciting repertoire, we invite you to register to be a part of Pemulwuy! National Male Voices Festival. We’re particular looking for boys and men for the Treble and Adult Strand. Info here.

Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear which songs were your favourites that were commissioned for a special event! Comment below! 

Find out more about Voices of Birralee.

(Note. This blog was edited on 5 June 2017).

Post 10 – Singing for our Anzacs

It has been an incredible week for our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir choristers, along with the management team and accompanying people.

On Monday, our choristers were given a rest day from rehearsals and snuck into the stunning Amiens Cathedral for a sneaky sing to test out the impressive acoustics, before heading on a battlefield tour, this time to Vimy Ridge. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was in April 1917, mainly involving the Canadian Corps.

This battlefield tour, among others, continued to build the choristers’ knowledge of WW1 and the importance of commemorating events in Australian and New Zealand’s history, while recognising the impact of this war, and others, on the rest of the world.

 

These tours and all the rehearsals were counting down to why our choir was in France; Anzac Day. And our choristers knew they were in for something incredible!

At 11pm Monday night our choristers were on the bus from Amiens, keen and ready to get to the grounds of the Australian National Memorial before the crowds. With lots of layers to brace for the onset of dawn, our choir warmed up in their greenroom marquee before providing pre-dawn entertainment.

All their preparation paid off – the choir sang beautifully. You can hear some of the pre-dawn performance here (thanks to Great War Centenary in the Somme for sharing via Facebook Live).

Tour manager / chorister Kate Thompson described what she was feeling between the dawn sets: “It’s quite hard to explain how it feels to be here. I remember learning about the war at school and hearing the stories when Birralee began its commemoration tours, but actually being here is like nothing else. Suddenly everything seems more real. More raw. The hardest thing is reading the remarks inscribed on the gravestones. Words from mothers to their lost sons, from wives to their husbands. When you hear of the vast numbers of lives lost, it’s easy to forget that each one of those boys had a mother, a father, a family, friends and a community who mourned for each and every individual. Singing with these young people has been an honour and I feel more privileged than ever to be a part of the Birralee family. It’s truly been an experience I shall never forget.” 

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The Anzac Day Commemoration Choir performing at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux on Anzac Day (Pic from Peta) 

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The Villers-Bretonneux Millitary Cemetery by night (pic supplied by Susan). 

 

The choir’s professionalism and beautiful sound was recognised by a number of people yesterday, including Councillor for The Gap Ward Steve Toomey who shared the below after meeting the choir.

Along with the coverage on the ABC, the choir was featured on Channel 7 with a snippet of the stunning Amazing Grace. A huge thank you to Birralee mum Melanie for organising this.

Anzac Day Commemoration Choir Conductor Jenny Moon noted: The singers were exceptional at the Dawn Service and at Bullecourt in honouring all those who served and continue to do so. They have been fine ambassadors for Birralee and Australia and I want to thank each of them for their commitment and dedication to this choir and congratulate them on the truly beautiful music they have made together. Well done guys.” 

Each chorister will have their own highlight from the day, but for Anthony Deeb, his is rather unique. The choristers have met a number of incredibly talented people during the past week off rehearsals and this included didgeridoo player David Hudson.

At the end of the Dawn Service, in a beautiful gesture, David gifted his didgeridoo to Anthony.

Chorister Anthony Deeb: “It was a pleasure to meet Dave whilst rehearsing at the Australian National Memorial. After the Anzac Day Dawn Service I was completely overwhelmed when Dave presented me with his didgeridoo which he played during the service. Dave also signed it for me. I’m really looking forward to trying it out when we are back home. This is a wonderful gift which will be shared with the Birralee community.” 

After the Anzac Day Dawn Service, our choristers had a rest before participating in the afternoon’s commitments. Their first duty was unofficial as they observed and participated as the audience in the Bullecourt Town Service.

Straight after though, it was back to performance-mode as the choir walked with the crowd up the road to the Digger Memorial for the centenary service.

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Participating in the Bullecourt Town Service (pic supplied by Peta). 

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Walking with the crowd to the Digger Memorial, Bullecourt (pic supplied by Peta).

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Performance ready at the Digger Memorial, Bullecourt, with Jenny leading (pic supplied by Peta).

All in all, it was a very special day for our choristers and they sung beautifully, honouring the Anzacs through song. The day was massive, as choristers sung in a completely different environment to what they had ever done in the past. Voices of Birralee Founder and Artistic Director Julie Christiansen OAM said the choristers’ efforts were exemplary.

“The challenges of extreme low temperatures was overcome by a gallant effort on behalf of all the musicians. It was a moment that no one will ever forget. The camaraderie of the group is another wonderful outcome with friendships that have deepened. Sincere thanks to Justine and Jenny for their wonderful talents, to Brigitte and Peta for constantly being on call and to Stu and Kate who got a taste of parenting 30 adolescents for a fortnight! The accompanying parents were a pleasure to have involved and also made our job easier. And finally a huge thank you to the tour management team back home, Rochelle, Amirah, Margie, Maree and Paul… your support made this amazing experience possible. Thank you.” 

Anzac Day and the week surrounding it is sure to stay in our choristers’ minds well into the future. The tour has been successful with the help of a number of individuals and groups. Thank you to:

– The Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Thank you in particular to Director Shaun Carroll and Assistant Director Paul Richardson CSC OAM of the Western Front Section Commemorations Branch and Sue Edwards from Definitive Events.

– Eric Brisse and the various communities of Paris, Vignacourt, Villers-Bretonneux and Allonville for welcoming our choir so warmly.

– Brisbane City Council, along with a number of community groups at home for lending our choristers support, including local RSLs, the Ashgrove – The Gap Lions Club (through the Lions Community 100 Project and via other projects) and Link Vision for their support of Anthony.

– Major Jeff Cocks, conductor of Australian Army Band and ADF soloist Dave Andrews for working with our choir so beautifully.

– And to Linda Stemp for her bespoke poppies our choristers wore with pride.

Finally, to everyone following the journey from home, including the families and schools of the choristers – thank you for your ongoing support!

#vobanzacdaychoir #lestweforget #wewillrememberthem

Post 9: A full day of rehearsals as we get closer

Sunday was another day of rehearsals for our choristers at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux. Conductor Jenny Moon said the choristers are singing very well, but the significance of the occasion has well and truly set in.

Our choristers are having a well deserved break from rehearsals today (Monday) prior to Tuesday.

Chorister, Lauren Woolrych: “I would love to say that working with all of the people at Villers-Bretonneux in preparation for Anzac Day has been a pleasure. I am really excited for Anzac Day as I get the opportunity to pay respect to my past relatives and also other Australians that have given so much to protect us.”

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The Australian National Memorial (pic supplied by Lauren). 

Chorister Caitlin Freeman: “Yesterday was a great, but exhausting day. We had rehearsals at Villers-Bretonneux where we ran through the service and the program. I came prepared for the cold by wearing nine layers all together but after lunch it warmed up and we ended up not needing them anyway. It was pretty tiring because it was a lot of sitting around and waiting. I am so excited for Anzac Day and I can’t wait to represent all those fallen soldiers and my country. After all of the memorials we have visited and the museums we have seen, I think we all have a bit more of an understanding as to what it was like. This makes the experience so much more worthwhile and memorable. I can’t wait to do my family proud and wear my relatives’ medals. I am so proud of them and their sacrifice.”

While the choristers were working hard rehearsing, some of our choristers’ parents checked out the local sites. Margaret Warren found Jules Verne, the French novelist’s house Sunday afternoon in Amiens. This is a picture of the five floor spiral staircase to the attic which she climbed!

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Jules Vern’s House, Amiens (Pic supplied by Margaret Warren)

Today, Monday, has included more exploring, with a visit to Vimy Ridge. We’ve also been told that the choir snuck into the acoustically and visually stunning The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Amiens to perform a few songs.

And just a reminder for those in Australia, the Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux will be broadcast from 1.30pm – 2.45pm on the ABC tomorrow (25 April).

All the best to our choristers for the big day tomorrow. They will perform at the Anzac Day Dawn Service, followed by the centenary service of the Battle of Bullecourt, later in the afternoon.

We know they’ll do us proud!

#vobanzacdaychoir #ww1 #lestweforget

Post 8: Battlefield tour & meeting the people of Villers-Bretonneux

Saturday was an amazing day for our choristers, as they get closer to Anzac Day.

And please mark it in your calendar – The Anzac Day Dawn Service will be broadcast on the ABC from 1.30pm – 2.45pm this Tuesday 25 April. 

Saturday began with a rehearsal at the Australian National Memorial in the morning, was followed by a battlefield tour, before the town concert at the Covered Market, Villers-Bretonneux.

The tour included a visit to the 1st Australian Division Memorial, Pozieres (our Western Front Centenary Choir performed at the 100th anniversary here in July last year), along with Thiepval Memorial, Lochnagar Crater and The Somme 1916 Museum, Albert, which documents artefacts and stories of WW1, in a WW2 air raid tunnel.

Our choir took the time to explore Theipval Memorial which was an emphatic reminder that WW1 didn’t just claim a massive toll on Australian and New Zealand soldiers. This memorial is for the missing in the Somme, mainly featuring the names of British and South African soldiers.

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The cemetery behind this memorial is built right next to what were the front lines in WW1. On 1 July, 1916 two British battalions advanced to the front line thinking that the Germans who had been defending this line were dead, but they were wrong. As the British approached, the Germans responded with machine gunfire. Australians on the Western Front 1914 – 1918 states that 20,000 British soldiers were killed and 40,000 wounded on this one day (read more here).

In honouring these soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice, our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir sang two songs at the memorial, In Flanders Fields (Music. John Jacobson, Text. Dr John McCrae, Arr. Roger Emerson) and We Will Remember Them (Text. Laurence Binyon, Music. Christopher Wilcock).

In the evening our choir was warmly welcomed by the Villers-Bretonneux community and were so proud to see the Aussie paraphernalia displayed throughout the small village in recognition of this French village’s appreciation of Australians. This included animals in the front lawn of the Villers-Bretonneux Town Hall.

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Our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir outside the Villers-Bretonneux Town Hall (pic supplied Jenny)

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Our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir in Villers-Bretonneux with Deputy Mayor M. Benoit Decottegnie (pic supplied by Jenny)

 

Our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir at the Victoria School (pic supplied by John W)

Our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir at the Victoria School, Villers-Bretonneux (pic supplied by John W)

Our choir put on a beautiful concert for the locals, many of whom had arrived in WW1 themed costumes!

It was lovely for our choristers to meet the locals, as well as one special audience member, Australian composer from Canberra, Heather Percy.

Heather composed Ne Les Oublions Jamais (We Will Never Forget) which is a favourite in our choir’s repertoire. The piece was commissioned as part of Voices of Birralee’s Voices from the Trenches Choral Festival. Heather was moved to tears by our choir’s beautiful rendition of her song and it was such a wonderful opportunity for our choristers to meet her.

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Our choristers meet Heather Percy, composer of Ne Les Oublions Jamais (We Will Never Forget). (pic by Julie C)

As always, it was such a great opportunity to perform in Villers-Bretonneux and a big thank you to M. Eric Brisse from the Somme Region, and the Villers-Bretonneux Mayor, M. Patrick Simon, and Deputy-Mayor, M. Benoit Decottegnie and the community for having us and also for preparing a wonderful meal for our choristers and APs!

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Sunday will include another rehearsal at the Australian National Memorial, with just a few days left until Anzac Day! Our choristers are getting very excited, and as you can tell by the snippets of beautiful music they are making – we already know they’ll do us proud!

More soon.

#vobanzacdaychoir #lestweforget #ww1

Post 7: Arriving to ANM, Villers-Bretonneux

A lot has happened since our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir met up last Friday in Paris!

And yesterday our choir had another busy day of rehearsals, beginning with the Australian Army Band in Amiens, before heading for the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux.

The photos below were taken at 10.30am…and as you can see our choristers were really enjoying the views during the morning bus ride through lovely French villages and the countryside.

They’ve had a big week!

Our choristers were amazed when they set foot at the Australian National Memorial for the first time. The memorial lists the names of some 11,000 Australians missing in France, with a number of graves where soldiers remain unidentified and the tombstones note, ‘known unto God’.

The memorial is in Villers-Bretonneux, a town where our Anzacs had one of their greatest victories of WW1. Two Australian brigades were assigned by the British to take back Villers-Bretonneux from the Germans. It was believed that had the Germans advanced to Amiens, they would have won the war (there’s a story here by the ABC which is a good summary of the event on 24 – 25 April, 1918).

On Friday, our choristers were able to explore the sacred site of the memorial between rehearsals.

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The Australian National Memorial (pic by Brigitte)

Chorister Rachel Bond: “Our first official day of rehearsal on site at the Australian National Memorial was amazing. As we arrived, it was almost impossible to believe we were finally there after all the counting down and hard work we had done to prepare. While we were rehearsing songs with the band such as Danny Boy, We Will Remember Them and Requiem for a Soldier and looking out over rows of graves and endless plains of fields in the distance, it felt as if we were singing directly to the soldiers who each made a selfless sacrifice for their nation. The experience was incredibly moving and many choristers shed a tear as the harsh reality of the tragedy of war set in.

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Choristers Jody Hurdial, Anthony Deeb and Louis Backstrom (pic by Brigitte)

Chorister Anthony Deeb: “Today the realisation of what we are here for hit me. Rehearsing with the Australian Army Band and being out at the ANM was incredible. We climbed to the top of the tower and I was told of what lay before me. I’m really looking forward to performing on Anzac Day.” 

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Preparations are underway for Anzac Day with the chairs set for the audience, along with greenrooms for the various VIPs and groups participating, including our Anzac Day Commemoration Choir (pic by Brigitte)

Choristers Ellie Minto and Libby Lynch have been working on a short poem together to express the importance of this trip. Seeing wording on a gravestone at the Australian National Memorial inspired this beautiful poem.

Dawn’s Tale – by Ellie Minto and Libby Lynch

Dawn tells no tale greater than war
And shines light upon our fields and shores
With hearts of pride and bravery
Our men left home for king and country

The spoils of war were all but none
And yet our men fought as one
A heart, a soul, a country, a kin,
A band of brothers without and within

The letters home were streaked with ink
As soldiers stood armed at the brink
Of death and war. They hoped and feared
And from every sacrifice we revered

Dawn tells no tale greater than war
And shines light upon heaven’s door
The arms of angels, weighted with sorrow,
carried our men unto tomorrow

And now we walk the fields of green
With white stone columns laced with wreaths
It’s our hearts now that break from the loss
Of men whose stones shall bare no cross

No names, no grave, no sign of place
But for the tears left on our face
The home they left so long ago
Shall now be protected from the foe

Dawn tells no tale greater than war
And shines light on our ANZACS, forever more.
“Not goodbye, but goodnight.
We shall all meet in the morning light.”

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Our choristers rehearse for the Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial (pic by Brigitte)

A note from Voices of Birralee Founder & Artistic Director Julie Christiansen OAM: It has been so lovely working with Major Jeff Cocks , conductor of Australian Army Band. Jeff and his wife Simone, who is also an ADF soloist, lived in Brisbane for many years with their two sons. Jeff is one of those rare band conductors who understands how to change his gesture for singers. His musicality is making our job so much more enjoyable and the music is expressive. The ADF soloist for this Anzac Day service is Dave Andrews from Ferny Hills. (He runs the gymnastics club at Ferny Hills in his spare time!) He is such a lovely guy and his singing is just perfect for this occasion.

Also Jenny Moon (Anzac Day Commemoration Choir conductor) is doing a wonderful job! The kids are sounding great! Jenny was enjoying herself so much yesterday at the ANM, that you might have caught a glimpse of her adding some sassy choreography to her conducting of La Vien en Rose! Much to the amusement of the DVA staff.” 

Today (Saturday) our choristers will take part in another rehearsal at the Australian National Memorial, before heading on a battlefield to Pozieres, Thiepval Memorial and  Lochnagar.

Tonight they will meet the people of Villers-Bretonneux for a town concert.

More soon!

#vobanzacdaychoir #lestweforget #ww1