An Australian War Requiem


Commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War One and to honour the Gallipoli campaign, the Sydney University Graduate Choir has commissioned composer and Music Director Christopher Bowen OAM to write An Australian War Requiem.

World War One– the ‘war to end all wars’ – broke out in August 1914 and was a conflict which saw Australia first fight under its own flag, lose 60,000 to death and more than 100,000 to injury, and helped define our fledgling sense of nationhood.

With libretto by Pamela Traynor, An Australian War Requiem has been inspired by letters written by young soldiers fighting on the Western Front to their mothers at home in Australia; especially, the correspondence between Private Vivian Neville Main and his mother May, and Lieutenant Clive Crowley and his mother Alice. These letters provide a deeply personal glimpse of the soldiers’ fears, their longing for home, and their courage and determination to see through the task they had begun.

The letters are interspersed with excerpts from poems, also written by those at the front, and from the Latin text of the Stabat Mater, with its moving depiction of the grief of Mary at the suffering and death of her son.

An Australian War Requiem depicts three ‘tableaux’: The Horror of War, Sons and Mothers, and Reflections on Loss. The famous words of Atatürk are also incorporated in the text:

“I’m calling to all mothers who have shed tears for their sons and want to take them back to their homelands: wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are at peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”

An Australian War Requiem aims to honour the Anzac spirit by celebrating the importance of that connection to life back at home, and the unquestioning support that mothers through the ages have given their boys who were so far away. It tells a story of both personal heartache and universal tragedy.

Scored for large choir, children’s choir, soloists and symphony orchestra, An Australian War Requiem The Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra will be joined by guest choristers from across NSW and a children’s choir from a number of Sydney schools.

An Australian War Requiem was approved by the Federal Government in 2013 as a worthwhile community cultural event to celebrate the centenaries of the outbreak of World War 1 and of the Gallipoli campaign.

The performance will include a slideshow of images selected from the archives of the Australian War Memorial, thanks to funding kindly offered by the Governments of two European countries.

 This event is being generously supported by the Attorney General’s Department, Ministry for the Arts; Australian War Memorial; City of Sydney; Federal Republic of Germany through their Consulate General in Sydney; Kingdom of Belgium through their Embassy in Australia; Republic of France through their Embassy in Canberra; Republic of Turkey through their Consulate General in Sydney, and Abdul Constructions; University of Sydney; Westfield Sydney.

The performers:

Celeste Lazarenko (Soprano)/ Ayse Goknur Shanal (Soprano)/ Andrew Goodwin (Tenor)/ Adrian Tamburini (Bass)/ Christopher Richardson (Bass)
200 strong choir comprising The Sydney University Graduate Choir and guest choir 
Children’s Choir

 60 strong orchestra 

Tickets: Section A – Adult $55, Conc $45/Section B – Adult $45, Conc $35/Section C – Adult $35, Conc $25/Child (15yrs & under) $25

Book at: Seymour Centre: 9351 7940
Ticketmaster: 1300 723 038

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