The acclaimed Arcko Symphonic Ensemble will present two powerful and emotionally-charged contemporary classical concerts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and the end of WW1 in Bendigo and Melbourne this November.
“Till we meet again, if not in this world, in the next” were the heartbreaking last words of Private Leslie Robins, a Bendigo boy, in his last letter home from the Western Front before his death.
Taking inspiration from these words, composer Andrew Harrison has created the new work, If Not In This World, based on the letters (written by his great-great-uncle) and those of Robins’ mother as she sought solace and comfort in artefacts to remember her son by.
Featuring vocal soloists Justine Anderson (soprano) and Robert Latham (tenor), If Not In This World is a deeply moving and personal work, exploring the loss and mourning of soldiers and their families left behind.
German expressionist painter Otto Dix also saw action on the Western Front fighting for the Germans. Bendigo based composer Rohan Phillips created a new work using Dix’s harrowing depictions of trench warfare as the starting point for a new work for large ensemble titled Meditations on der Krieg.
The concert program will also feature The Drumfire Was Incessant (solo for piano, also by Andrew Harrison, depicting the Battle of Pozieres; to be played by Peter Dumsday) and Joy Lee will perform Menin Gate by revered octogenarian composer Helen Gifford – a musical interpretation of Will Longstaff’s haunted painting, Menin Gate at Midnight.
Selected readings will be taken from An English Vision of Empire by Corporal Frederick Wynne Phillips, who is Arcko founder and conductor Timothy Phillips’ (no relation to Rohan Phillips) grandfather, and who served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front.
Serendipitously, Gifford’s father actually served in the same battalion as young Private Robins. This has led to Gifford and Andrew Harrison forging a strong friendship. Gifford is also the second cousin of Rohan Phillips and a major influence in his work.
Featuring 21 virtuoso Melbourne musicians for these concerts, Arcko Symphonic Ensemble has forged a reputation for delivering original, memorable and creative concerts that acknowledge significant events in world history with new Australian music.
If Not In This World
St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, 8 Myers Street, Bendigo
Performance: Saturday 10 November 2018 – 7:30pm
Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston Street, Carlton
Performance: Sunday 11 November 2018 – 7.00pm
For more information, visit: www.arckosymphonicensemble.org.au for details.
Image: courtesy of Arcko Symphonic Ensemble