The Diggers’ Requiem is a major new Australian work and it premiered on October 6 2018 to a packed house at the Llewellyn Hall in Canberra in front of the Governor General, and the ambassadors for France and Germany. The Australian Premiere is a significant event to commemorate the end of World War One, 100 years on.
The Requiem was jointly commissioned by the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), produced and directed by Christopher Latham and will be performed at Llewellyn Hall by a large orchestra and choir. The concert was recorded for CD release and broadcast by ABC Classic FM.
In an astonishing piece of musical teamwork, The Requiem has been composed by seven contemporary Australian composers working with Chris on existing and new pieces. Composers Nigel Westlake, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills, Graeme Koehne, Ross Edwards, Andrew Schultz and Chris have all written movements.
The concert was performed by the newly formed Australian War Memorial Orchestra and Choir with the Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon as well as 24 young artists selected from across Australia with French or German ancestry or WWI family connections. Seven Australian and international soloists will also perform.
The sad and cathartic March of the Death of Saul by Handel is traditionally performed at the military funeral of Commonwealth soldiers, and will open the work, followed by the Somme Lament, by Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, who died at Beaumont-Hamel in 1916. This lament, which will represent the Battle of Pozières, was written nearby in a basement of a bombed out house in Menil-Martinsart, just two weeks before his death.
Elena Kats-Chernin's Lacrimosa evokes the grief of a mother who sings for her son who was lost in the battle of Bullecourt in the Pas-de-Calais. Alex Lithgow who wrote the stirring Victoria March, which was played by the Australian Army as it marched into Bapaume in 1917, has had his work incorporated into Nigel Westlake’s The Glass Soldier, the iconic Australian work for trumpet and orchestra. A lone piper plays John Grant's Lament for the Pipers lost in the Great War in Ross Edwards’ Lux Aeterna, with a peal of 62,000 bells, layered and patterned, to commemorate the 62,000 Australians who died in WWI.
The Diggers' Requiem Fundraising Campaign
The Diggers' Requiem is made possible in part by the generosity of many government and corporate supporters. However, we still need your help to make up a significant shortfall and make the concert a reality. We have set up a fundraising campaign with the Australian Cultural Fund, and we invite you to become part of this important project by making a tax deductible donation.
Any amount is appreciated, however our target is high and we would appreciate you giving whatever you can. Donations can be anonymous, however if you choose to give your name you will be acknowledged in our program and on our website as a valued contributor to the project.