AFTER generations of hatred and grieving, and 80 years after the autumn of Singapore, it’s time to forgive and reconcile, the Australian Struggle Memorial’s musical artist-in-residence Christopher Latham says.
With that in thoughts, Latham has launched into the mightiest of epic journeys in his musical sequence “Flowers of Peace” with the approaching “POW Requiem”.
The epic live performance will canvas the experiences of prisoners of struggle world wide, paying particular consideration to Australians’ experiences nearer to residence – in Changi, on the Thai Burma Railway, and within the Sandakan Loss of life March.
Straddling the globe, act one will have a look at POWs in Europe and Australia, together with Italian and German interns in addition to the Cowra breakout of 1944, the most important within the struggle, whereas act two will flip to the POWs in Asia.
As along with his earlier blockbusters, “The Gallipoli Symphony”, the “Diggers’ Requiem” and the “Vietnam Requiem”, Latham has galvanised the complete power of Australia’s musical royalty to jot down no fewer than eight new commissions.
The performers are not any much less formidable – singers Susannah Lawergren and Andrew Goodwin, Riley Lee on shakuhachi, Dong Ma on erhu, Yuhki Mayne on violin, Invoice Risby and Edward Neeman on piano, Alice Giles on harp, navy musicians, the CSO, and ANU College of Music and choirs.
Spectacular it could be, however some commentators consider the POW expertise is simply too grim for music.
Nevertheless, Latham says it’s a narrative that needs to be instructed as soon as and for all, to be able to shut the guide.
He has a formidable ally in his previous pal composer Jonathan Mills, maybe greatest often known as director of the Edinburgh Worldwide Pageant from 2006 to 2014.
Composer Sir Jonathan Mills… “Chris is doing outstanding issues, all on a really giant scale.”
Former POW Frank Mills… spent his honeymoon in Japan after the struggle.
Christopher Latham… galvanised the complete power of Australia’s musical royalty to jot down eight new commissions.
Sir Jonathan has obtained the philanthropic assist of Metallic Manufactures Restricted, however earns his place within the POW requiem as a result of he’s additionally the composer of “Sandakan Threnody”, a savage lament for individuals who suffered in Australia’s worst wartime atrocity.
I caught up with him in Canberra lately the place he adamantly contested the cost that the POW requiem is a downer.
“Chris is doing outstanding issues, all on a really giant scale. It’s an epic a part of our historical past, so it deserves to have the identical form of ambition,” he instructed me.
“These had been defining narratives within the historical past of Australia, seared into our reminiscences, however Chris needs us to see these moments as locations for therapeutic.”
“I didn’t write ‘Sandakan Threnody’ as an accusation; ‘Threnody’ is ‘grieving’ in Historic Greek, a public, not a non-public act, so it was about paying tribute to the individuals in World Struggle II, saying goodbye to them whereas they had been nonetheless with us.”
His 2001 threnody kinds a key a part of the requiem because it evokes the ache and struggling of the 2345 Australian and British prisoners of struggle who had been marched to demise on the street from Sandakan to Ranau in present-day Malaysian Sabah – solely six survived.
His personal father, the famous coronary heart surgeon, Frank Mills, narrowly prevented the destiny of his comrades when he and different officers and NCOs had been transferred to Kuching. After the struggle, Frank Mills turned one of many main advocates for reconciliation between Australians and Japanese. He even spent his honeymoon in Japan.
Music, previous and new, binds the requiem all through. Debussy’s “Reverie”, organized by Margaret Dryburgh and Norah Chambers, is used to replicate POWs’ psychological state, whereas Slim De Gray’s “My Fort In The Air” from “Changi Track Ebook” tells of daredevil RAAF pilots who evaded seize.
In a section about hunger, Latham makes use of the “De Profundis” from “Sandakan Threnody”, however commissioned “The Fall of Singapore” from Cyrus Meurant.
No person expects the “POW Requiem” to be amusing a minute, however Latham has discovered glimmers of hope in a piece about love and care and in “The Entertainers”, which offers with live performance packages, particularly in Changi, the place the requirements of performing, set design and manufacturing had been remarkably skilled.
He’s approaching the mission with attribute zeal as he assembles and adjusts the musical scores, sources greater than 220 slides for a visible backing and engages with POW households and Canberra’s Japanese neighborhood to unfold his message of peace and forgiveness.
Latham believes there may be a lot good to be discovered. The Canberra-Nara sister metropolis relationship, he says, goes again to the Thai-Burma railway the place POW chaplain Father Sam Marsden promised that if he survived, he’d go to Japan to evangelise forgiveness and reconciliation. He did.
And after a current preview, representatives from the Japanese embassy and neighborhood instructed him that they felt that artwork, greater than another mechanism, can be the important thing to repairing this historic wound.
The “POW Requiem”, Llewellyn Corridor, 1pm-4.15pm, Saturday, October 29.
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Ian Meikle, editor