Voices of Birralee’s commissioning highlights

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.

View from the Roof. This was composed by Alice Chance for the Birralee Blokes to perform at Pemulwuy! 2014.

Mantra for the Y Generation. Composed by Dan Walker for Pemulwuy! 2008 and performed by the Youth Choir, the Birralee Blokes went on to record this song for their Towards Infinity CD, released by ABC Classics. Listen to the piece here.

Hocket. By Robert Davidson. This was commissioned for the Birralee Blokes for Pemulwuy! 2011. This was an interesting piece without words but was based on sharing melody notes between voice parts, a note or two at a time.

We invite you to enjoy the newly commissioned pieces at our upcoming events via the following: 

Concert Three: Voices from the Trenches, presented in association with QPAC at the Pemulwuy! National Male Voice Festival Finale at 6.30pm Sunday 2 July. Tickets here.

OR…for all the males out there keen to sing some exciting repertoire, we invite you to register to be a part of Pemulwuy! National Male Voices Festival. We’re particular looking for boys and men for the Treble and Adult Strand. Info here.

Thanks for reading! We’d love to hear which songs were your favourites that were commissioned for a special event! Comment below! 

Find out more about Voices of Birralee.

(Note. This blog was edited on 5 June 2017).

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