The Diggers’ Requiem: a truly historic moment for the commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice of World War I [fr]
On Saturday the 6th of October, the Diggers’ Requiem made its concert debut in Canberra. This concert comes just in time, as we prepare to mark the Centenary of the Armistice of the World War I on the 11th of November 2018. Mr. Christophe Penot Ambassador of France to Australia, was most pleased not only to support this concert over the past year, but to attend the concert itself alongside the Embassy of Germany, and the Australian War Memorial.
The Diggers’ Requiem is a musical project of high caliber, enthusiastically led by Christopher Latham, director of the Flowers of War. Indeed, for the past four years, the Flowers of War initiative has set out to commemorate World War I, by remembering and restoring the classical music that was lost during the War.
Not only were too many lives lost during this terrible War, but there were a significant amount of cultural losses too. In that regard, it became Chris’s mission to ensure that we honour the legacy and sacrifice of these men, that we pay tribute and never forget and music was a most appropriate means to do that. Music and culture inevitably unite and bring people together and so, the Flowers of War carved their way to a moment of historic significance by sharing with the nation an exceptional and incredible musical moment carefully planned, organised and put together to inspire and bring people from all nations together.
The requiem itself is made up of 14 individual movements composed by Elena Kats Chernin, Nigel Westlake, Richard Mills, Andrew Schultz, Graeme Koehne, Frederick Septimus Kelly, Alexander Frame Lithgow, Ross Edwards and beautifully sown together by the overall musical coherence, the images and visuals projected on stage, as well as the unison and harmony of the 300 performers present.
This project has been a long time in the making, with support from many different private and public stakeholders, including the Centenary Mission in France led by Joseph Zimet. As such, the performance of this Requiem was meticulously organised to have its first public performance in the city of Amiens in France, on the eve of Anzac Day, to then continue on in Sydney and Melbourne before arriving to the nation’s capital last Saturday. The Requiem was welcomed by a full house, a standing ovation and a reception co-hosted after the concert by the Embassy of France and the Embassy of Germany in Australia.
The concert was sure to be a success, but what happened on Saturday was truly magical and outstanding. Upon conclusion of the concert, the audience stood up in one united movement to provide a standing ovation like no other. Those in attendance could feel the intense emotion and unity in the room, civilians, militaries and officials joined together to witness a most special moment, an opportunity to share beautiful music but above all to come together for something much bigger and profound – for the commemoration and the unity of our three nations: France, Australia and Germany .
The Diggers’ Requiem was intended as a powerful way to conclude the commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice of World War I. This musical “peace” was to provide a meaningful conclusion to this key Flowers of War project, give an opportunity to reflect on the importance of commemoration and the significance of this year in our shared history. However, with such grand and immense success, one can only argue that this opens the door to a long future of commemorations and is only the beginning of the journey for this most-loved requiem, sure to become an iconic piece of music for France, Australia and Germany.
For those of you who missed out on the concert at Llewelyn Hall you can find below not only Ambassador Penot’s speech but also the link to the live recording of the concert by ABC Classic FM.