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FORMER “CityNews” Artist of the Year Christopher Latham, has been appointed as the first ever musical artist in residence for the Australian War Memorial.Latham, who has been the director of the World War I-targeted project “Flowers of War” and previously the director of the Canberra International Music Festival, is also a noted violinist and music scholar who conceived and oversaw the “Gallipoli Symphony”, which premiered in Istanbu, which ABC TV broadcast in 2015 from the Istanbul premiere and later released on DVD and CD.
His appointment at the War Memorial is for the period of 2017-2021 and will include a wide range of concerts and events during that time. It’s aimed at recovering music from the two-week world wars and Vietnam, with the idea of enriching the music collection for the memorial and also giving “a human face to our nation’s losses”.
“My first task is to create ‘The Diggers’ Requiem’ for the AWM and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs…the follow-up to the Gallipoli Symphony,” Latham says.
The Requiem will be made up of commissioned music by Australia’s leading composers, along with music either written or played during WW1. The composers writing movements are Ross Edwards, Elena Kats-Chernin, Richard Mills and Graham Koehne, while existing music by Nigel Westlake and First World War soldier/composers will also make up the work.Plans are already well underway. The Australian Army Band under Latham’s direction will premiere the “Bapaume” movement (music by Westlake and NZ/Australian composer Alex Lithgow) from the Requiem today, April 20, in Bapaume France, where the village was destroyed. A famous photo was taken of the AIF 5th Brigade Band playing as they marched through the ruins of Bapaume and Latham’s hope is to recreate that image on the same site. Elena Kats-Chernin’s “Lacrimosa” movement from “The Diggers’ Requiem”, which represents the battles of Bullecourt, will also get performed by the same musicians in Bullecourt on Anzac Day.
And there’s more.
“I am really looking forward to the “100 Songs Project” in which we will record 100 songs sung and performed during World War 1, many for the first time, over the next two years… People will be able to download them from the AWM site,” Latham says.
Details of Latham’s ongoing project may be found at theflowersofwar.org