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.