Day five was massive!
Our Western Front Centenary Choir choristers woke early to arrive to a full day’s rehearsal at Pheasant Wood Cemetery, Fromelles.
It was a rather hot day (even for us Aussies!) but an interesting day as the choir watched how the service was coming together, orchestrated by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Our singers, of course, showed great professionalism while they hurried into position and then waited while the other components of the service were worked through, to ensure a smooth event day for the anniversary service for the Battle of Fromelles.
It was a great chance to absorb the setting further, while acknowledging just how important the role is that our 15 choristers will be playing!
The services at Pheasant Wood Cemetery and VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial are going to be incredibly moving for our choristers, and we invite you to tune in from home to support them in this significant event…or at least record the late ones to watch at a more reasonable hour (Tuesday 19 July).
Here’s the programme:
ABC News 24
8.30pm. Australia Remembers: Fromelles Preview
9.00pm Service from Fromelles – Pheasant Wood
11.10pm. Service from Fromelles – Pheasant Wood. (Delayed telecast)
12.50am (Wed) service from VC Corner
The next stage of the day was to sing at a combined concert with Newcastle’s the Hunter Singers, at Fromelles Church.
Avoiding sites that weren’t touched by WW1 in this region proves difficult! Fromelles Church was destroyed in WW1, with the current church built upon the previous church’s foundations, from 1924. The village church, featuring a neo-roman style sits just near Pheasant Wood Cemetery.
It was such a lovely setting for our choristers to perform in, and you can hear them practise here.
Our chorister Laurence Nicol greeted the attendees, playing the bagpipes to get them ready for an evening of stunning music presented by both choirs.
Our Western Front Centenary Choir’s conductor Julie Christiansen OAM had selected repertoire which she hoped would appeal to the French audiences and appeal it did – the audience loved hearing the choir sing pieces in French. They were absolutely wowed by the performances, and what we’ve discovered on all of our three centenary tours, so far, is how the locals love that we can achieve songs in their language.
A highlight of the concert was the Hunter Singers premiering their tribute to WWI, a song titled Fromelles, composed by Paul Jarman. It was such a special tribute to our Anzacs and their sacrifices here, 100 years ago. There weren’t many dry eyes during this piece, and a number of the other stunning songs of the programme.
There were so many special moments, but a standing ovation and encore was another highlight, where the audience showed how much they were impressed.
After the concert, we encouraged our choristers to have an early night, although the excitement for Day 6 was tricky to suppress!
Tuesday will begin with an early start to get to Pheasant Wood Cemetery before the crowds, with our choristers to sing in the late morning at the pre-service and service.
We’ll have a break to check our some of the festivities happening around the site, as part of the town’s anniversary programme, before arriving to VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial for the afternoon’s service.
It’s bound to be an awesome day for our choristers, and one we are so proud to be involved in!
(Keep up-to-date with our tours via our Friends of Birralee’s Anzac Centenary Tours Facebook group).