Flowers of War Newsletter - June 2018

Chris Latham has just returned from a highly successful visit to France and Belgium - while it started with the breathtaking Diggers’ Requiem in Amiens, where Simone Riksman’s singing was called ‘une voix celeste’  (a heavenly voice) by a French TV station, it continued with a recording session in Brussels and a chamber music concert in Lille.

Chris Latham takes up the story:

Brussels:  we recorded Frederick Septimus Kelly's string trio, which was finished and premiered in Sydney in 1911. It was the last thing Sep gave to the violinist Jelly D’Aranyi before he left for France where he died in the Somme. It is one of the few pieces he took so long over - six years of polishing. Given it was a piece that Jelly, Pablo Casals and Frank Bridge all played – it is well overdue for it to come back to light.

The recording will be a revelation to Australian musicians - the Belgian musicians of the Septimus Trio: Kaja Nowak (violin), Diede Verpoest (viola) and Wouter Vercrusse (cello) are astoundingly fine. I am going to arrange it for string orchestra next year with the intention that the ACO finally has an Australian romantic closing masterwork that they can tour with. It was dedicated to Bertie Kelly, Sep's brother (whose initials were HK) who helped start the Sydney Symphony.

Franz Marc The large blue horses cropped.jpg

Lille: Great concert in Lille (The Man Who Painted Blue Horses) of Franz Marc's last book of sketches from Verdun which we then transform into paintings.

It gives the feeling that his final works are being completed. Ironically Marc who deeply loved animals and painted horses in particular with enormous empathy was killed at Verdun while riding a horse. We combine these gorgeous German sketches and paintings with French songs written by composers who served at Verdun. Well done to Simone Riksman, Vincent Delage, Ken Sugita, Catherine Delanoue and Paul Mayes. The audience was deeply moved and we will include the recording made from the rehearsals and the concert in our upcoming Flowers of the Great War publication.


The Diggers’ Requiem received five standing ovations from a full auditorium at its premiere in Amiens, France on April 23rd. It was conducted by Chris Latham and performed by the French Orchestra de Picardy and the German Jena Philharmonic, with soloists Simone Riksman ( The Netherlands)  and. The members of the two orchestras shook hands and embraced at the end of this very moving event.

The upcoming Canberra performance is the first time this major work will be performed in Australia. Written as an astonishing piece of musical team-work by Nigel Westlake, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills, Andrew Schultz, Graeme Koehne and Ross Edwards, and overseen by Chris Latham, each movement tells the story of a major Western Front battle. The final work of Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, who fought and died in the Somme, adds a poignancy to the Requiem. The Diggers’ Requiem is the second of a series of seven proposed Peace Symphonies Chris Latham will make as Australia War Memorial Artist-in-Residence, in partnership with DVA.

In Brief

OzCo Grant for young artists!

Australia Council Grants for Music announced May 2018 - Chris Latham has received $30,000 for the Diggers’ Requiem Young Artists Program, a five-day intensive program built around performance of the works from composers such as Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills and Ross Edwards.

The young artists will be drawn from youth orchestras around Australia, and will perform in the Diggers Requiem in October and meet the composers who created the Diggers’ Requiem.

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.