Gallipoli Centenary Composer Competition winners announced

Staff Writer

2015 is the centenary of the Gallipoli landings. As part of commemorations, ABC Classic FM and Radio New Zealand Concert invited Australian and New Zealand composers to enter their original compositions with the Gallipoli Songs competition.

The Minister for Veterans' Affairs Michael Ronaldson, said that the  Anzac Centenary Program will mark a Century of Service, encompassing all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australians have been involved.

“I thank everyone who entered the competition and I congratulate the six composers chosen by the judging panel”.

"The Centenary of Anzac will be the most significant period of commemoration in our nation’s history and the Government is committed to providing opportunities for all Australians to participate, including through the Gallipoli Songs competition."

Gallipoli Songs competition was part of the Saluting their Service program  from The Department of Veterans with a  $30,000 grant.  

In Gallipoli Songs, composers were invited to set authentic Gallipoli texts to music.  The texts came from original letters, diaries or any personal writing related to the Gallipoli campaign. The material could be already published, held in national institutions or be part of private family archives.

There were 110 new scores received from composers of all ages and many musical voices from both sides of the Tasman. Close to half of the scores received set diary entries by Private Ellis Silas (1885-1972), a young painter and illustrator from Perth who was a signaller with the Anzac forces at Gallipoli.

The judging panel, consisting of Australian soprano Merlyn Quaife, composer Elliott Gyger, Stephen Adams from ABC Classic FM alongside Kate Mead from Radio NZ Concert and prolific composer Dame Gillian Whitehead shortlisted18 works, before the final six were chosen. Prize money of $5,000 per composition has been awarded to six composers whose Gallipoli Songs best communicated the experiences of the original Anzacs and their loved ones.  In addition, the winning compositions will be professionally performed, recorded and broadcast on Anzac Day 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.

Gallipoli Centenary Composer Competition winners:

Aristea MellosWonder sets the diary entries by Private Ellis Silas as a lucid and affecting vignette for baritone and piano.

Constantine Koukias makes the same Private Ellis Silas text the middle section of his Three Episodes (for baritone, violin, trumpet and piano) – a set texts capturing the approach to Gallipoli.

Andrew Baldwin’s Dawn: May 11, 1915 for baritone, violin and piano sets Silas’s other most affecting passage – the roll call in which the silence of comrades and the presence of their unburied bodies on the battlefield is brought to a close by him with a brief setting of lines from the Latin requiem.

Melody Eotvos Wakeford Songs: 1. By Train for mezzo and piano sets a letter from Muriel Wakeford, an Anzac nurse in Egypt on her way to the front – a vignette capturing her anticipations of combat and her sighting of the pyramids. From her position aboard the hospital ship, the Gascon, Wakeford was one of the people who witnessed the deadly and bloody assault on the morning of 25 April at Anzac Cove.   

Martin Greet’s Just Before Dawn gives George Wallace Bollinger's words to mezzo voice, accompanied by trumpet and piano. The passage from his diary describes his dash from the boats to the shore at Gallipoli and the sudden loss of a comrade. Bollinger later became an officer before dying of wounds sustained in 1917 while fighting with the 2nd Battalion of the Wellington Infantry Regiment during the Messines (Mesen) offensive.

Peter McNamara’s The General's Garden for baritone and piano sets excerpts from a sequence of seven letters home, written by General Sir John Monash, a brigade commander in the Anzac forces at Gallipoli. The letter excerpts recount small scenes from the daily life of the conflict, as well as requests for news from his family about the current state of blooms in his garden back home.

The winning scores will now be prepared for studio recording in early 2015 in time for their premieres as part of Anzac centenary broadcasts in Australia and New Zealand.


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