The project is a nationally significant concert called The Diggers’ Requiem, a piece commissioned by the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), produced and directed by Chris Latham, Artist-in-Residence at the AWM, and performed on Saturday 6th October 2018 at Llewellyn Hall, Canberra.
The concert includes commissioned works by five leading contemporary Australian composers (Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills, Nigel Westlake, Graeme Koehne and Ross Edwards), alongside recently discovered music composed in the battlefields of France during WW1. It also features the final work of Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, who was killed in the Somme.
The performing artists include 30 of Canberra’s best orchestral musicians, with players from the Royal Military College Band, Duntroon, 28 Young Artists selected from across Australia and a handbell choir representing ‘62,000 bells’, one for each Australian life lost.. Four prominent interstate and overseas soloists will also perform.
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 ties between France, Germany and Australia.The reason the project is so significant is that this is the first time a work of this scope has been attempted, with the aim of contextualising, memorialising and honouring the fallen of The Great War.
The Diggers’ Requiem is the second of a series of 5 proposed Peace Symphonies Chris Latham has created as AWM Artist-in-Residence, in partnership with the DVA. The project contains multiple levels of collaboration representing Canberra connections, national cultural institutions and diplomacy. Its legacy will remain in perpetuity as formal recordings held by the AWM and the ABC, as well through international cultural links and strengthening diplomatic ties.
In keeping with its immense and enduring cultural significance, this is an extremely costly project that will only be made possible through a combination of government grants, commissioning funds, box office revenue and substantial private donations. I am hoping to raise $75,000 in private donations, to cover my expenses and production costs including artist and composer fees, marketing and publicity, ticketing, artist travel and venue hire.
Part of the social impact I am seeking to have with this project is to encourage interested donors to reach out to me and share stories of their connection with the Great War. To this end I would warmly welcome any enquiries about the project from donors across Australia, not just in Canberra.