Our projects are performances linking music and the arts created during ww1, At times followed by symposiums.
The Flowers of War is a project to uncover, perform, discuss and celebrate the music and art that talented men and women used to cope with the horror and to mark their experiences. Over the next three years, ten concerts of recently discovered music, diaries, poetry and art will be performed in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and France, including a tour of villages of the Somme. Some of these concerts will be accompanied by symposia with noted experts in the field, so marking the significant centenaries of the Great War.
The Diggers Requiem
The Diggers’ Requiem is a nationally significant concert jointly commissioned by the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA), produced and directed by Chris Latham and to be performed at Llewellyn Hall by Canberra’s leading professional musicians. The concert will be recorded and may be broadcasting by ABC FM.
The concert includes the commissioned works of five leading contemporary Australian composers and recently discovered music composed in the battlefields of France during WW1. The performing artists include 30 independent Canberra musicians, ten players from the Royal Military College Band, Duntroon (RMC) as well as 28 Young Artists selected from across Australia with French or German ancestry or WW1 family connections. Four interstate and overseas soloists will also perform.
The Diggers Requiem composed by Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills, Nigel Westlake, Graeme Koehne and Ross Edwards tells the story of the major Western Front battles. It also features the final work of Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly who was killed in the Somme.
The Diggers’ Requiem has been commissioned to create repertoire about these iconic events for national use and to create a symbol that represents the close diplomatic relationship between France, Germany and Australia
PROGRAM 4: MONET: THE FLOWERS OF WAR
The wartime masterworks of Claude Monet, the world’s most prolific artist of WW1. Unveiling the story of his Waterlily series, as he raced to complete them before he went blind. Revealing his neighbourly friendship with French PM Georges Clemenceau, whose regular visits involved saving Monet’s paintings from the fire. Monet would eventually give him the best of these paintings as a gift to France at the end of the war, his contribution to the war effort. Interwoven with the works of serving impressionist composers, Jean Cras, Reynaldo Hahn, Albert Roussel, Maurice Ravel and also Claude Debussy who dies in 1918 of cancer.
PROGRAM 5: THE HEALERS
Exploring the role of women, doctors and stretcher bearers in war. Following the lives of three nurses including Vera Brittain, suffragette author of Testament of Youth, Chris Latham's grandmother Beryl Churchill (cousin of Winston), and Australian nurse Sister Alice Ross King. Music by musicians such as Lilli and Nadia Boulanger and those who served as stretcher bearers - Cecil Coles, Jacques Ibert, Joseph Boulnois and André Caplet
PROGRAM 6: 1917 THE NIGHT IS DARKEST BEFORE THE DAWN
A musical portrait of one of the most tumultuous years in our history.
1917’s battles of Bapaume, Arras, Bullecourt, the Russian Revolution, the French Army’s revolt, the Birth of Finland, and the battles of 3rd Ypres, Passchendaele and the Charge at Beersheba.
1917 compositions by Lili Boulanger, Ivor Gurney, Louis Vierne, Benjamin Dale, Ervin Schulhoff, Jean Sibelius and Sergei Prokofiev, plus a preview of The Diggers’ Requiem, with premieres of work by Nigel Westlake, Alex Lithgow, Richard Mills and Elena Kats-Chernin
PROGRAM 7: THE GENTLER FACE OF COURAGE
Exploring the battlefield creations by gay artists, how they influenced modern memory. Poetry, diaries and letters by Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke with music by Reynaldo Hahn (Marcel Proust’s lover), Australian composer Arthur Benjamin (who was shot down and captured by Herman Goering) and Rupert Brooke’s lover, the English composer William Denis Browne, who dies at Gallipoli.
PROGRAM 8: THE GLASS SOLDIER
Telling the story, through music and diaries, of Nelson Ferguson, trumpeter and painter, gassed, partially blinded, while a stretcher bearer in the battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Following the war, realising he could no longer paint, created stained glass windows instead for churches throughout Victoria. He could see just enough to create the formwork, which his sons filled in. Inspired largely by the memory of the great medieval Cathedral stained glass windows before he was blinded, he finally saw his own creations, when, at the last, surgeons gave him new corneas. About healing those who were wounded.
PROGRAM 9: THE WOMEN’S WAR
The Great War is remarkable for the fact that there was no clear victor – economies were ravaged and a generation lost, but one thing was won – the vote for Women.
Charting the rise of the suffragette movement across Europe through composer Ethel Smyth, partner of Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the Women's Social and Political Union. Smyth’s “March of the Women” was the anthem of the women's suffrage movement in the UK and elsewhere. Activists sang it at rallies, in prison. Her story intermeshes with Lili Boulanger, first female winner of the Prix du Rome, died in 1918 from the Spanish Flu, as a result of exhaustion from her compositional efforts, organising concerts to support the troops. Interwoven is the story of Rebecca Clarke, pioneering English composer, first wave of female professional musicians, who hid behind aliases to be taken seriously as a composer.
PROGRAM 10: TOWARDS A LASTING PEACE
In the lead-up to the centenary of the death of Wilfred Owen (Nov 4, 1918) and Guillaume Apollinaire (Nov 9 1918), an overview of the greatest artists lost to the Great War. Music by Alberic Magnard, Enrique Granados and Rudi Stephan, poems by Isaac Rosenberg, Leslie Coulson and George Trakl, paintings by Wilhelm Morgner, Umberto Boccioni, Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt.
The Battle of Verdun, 21 February – 18 December 1916
PROGRAM 1: DEATH AND TRANSCENDENCE -Verdun and the death of Franz Marc
The concert will celebrate the work of Franz Marc, who was killed at Verdun. His pencil sketches made during that battle will be transformed with colour in a dramatic slide show to be shown for the first time. The music will be by Marc’s contemporaries, both French and German, many of whom died on the battle field.
Music: Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Erwin Schulhoff, Botho Sigwart, Rudi Stephan, Pierre Vellones, Mel Bonnis and Louis Vierne.
Diary accounts:Franco-Australian “poilu” and Verdun veteran, Jacques Playoust, a Sydney born translater, from a wool selling family who sent Australian wool to make French uniforms
The Battle of the Somme, 1 July – 18 November 1916
PROGRAM 2: SACRIFICE – remembering the lost voices of the Somme
This event will celebrate twelve composers of sixnationalities (Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, English, German and French) who were lost at the Somme. We also focus on the price paid by villages destroyed in those battles.
The concert presents music composed in the trenches, in a hospital, and before joining up. The program is designed to be performed in France in the churches of the Somme villages that were left in ruins. It will end with pipe tunes written by some of the 500 pipers and drummers killed in action, three of whom were awarded Victoria Crosses for their playing.
Music: Music by FS Kelly, Willie Braithwaite Manson, James Richardson, George Butterworth, Francis Purcell Warren, Johannes Schmiedgen plus Walter Braunfels, Botho Sigwart, André Caplet, Reynaldo Hahn, Deodat de Severac and Lili Boulanger.
World War 1 1914-18: The Cultural Losses
PROGRAM 3: THE TREASURES– Australia’s great cultural loss
One hundred years later, we explore the creative talent of three forgotten composers, now united by music long after they died: Australian Frederick Septimus Kelly, (a gold medal winning rower who died in the Somme in 1916) Frenchman Claude Dubosq (a translator for the British army who died in 1938) and German Botho Sigwart (a German Count who served in Flanders and France, and died 1915 in Poland on the eastern front).
The concert brings alive the fortitude and talent of three young men who composed – maybe as a way of coping with the horror – moments of beauty and reflection, in this collection of almost unknown music uncovered by Chris Latham.