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NZSO pays tribute to our Anzac heroes

20 March 2013

NZSO pays tribute to our Anzac heroes

Commemorate the spirit of Anzac with your national orchestra and enjoy three inspiring works by composers from Australia, New Zealand and England.

We begin On Anzac Eve with a salute across the Tasman to our closest allies. Sydney-born composer Ross Edwards’ Symphony No.1 Da Pacem Domine was conceived and partly composed during the Gulf Crisis.

The Symphony evolves slowly and organically over a deep insistent rhythmic pulse. “It is thus, in effect, a sort of massive orchestral chant of quiet intensity into which my subjective feelings of grief and foreboding about some of the great threats to humanity: war, pestilence, and environmental devastation, have been subsumed into the broader context of ritual,” says Edwards.

During its composition, Edwards’ Symphony No.1 became a threnody for Stuart Challender, the Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, who died shortly after its completion. Dedicated to Stuart’s memory, the work speaks of the fragility of peace and takes its poignant title from the hymn-like episode based on a fragment of the plainsong Da Pacem Domine (Give Peace, Lord).

We return to Aotearoa for Till Human Voices Wake Us, composed by NZSO Chief Executive, Christopher Blake. Originally commissioned by the NZSO and Radio New Zealand, for broadcast on International Music Day in 1986, its composition was also inspired by the International Year for Peace.

Blake’s interest in historical and political issues reveals itself in both the title and text of this impressive work. Named after a novel by the pacifist Ian Hamilton, which was originally inspired by T.S. Eliot’s final line in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Blake’s libretto was gathered from anti-war activist Archibald Baxter’s autobiography We Will Not Cease.

The opening crash foreshadows a sense of doom before a lone trumpet fanfare evokes the courageous spirit of Anzac with its stirring repetition of the perfect fifth of the Last Post. Another crash introduces the strings and eventually the full Orchestra before Baxter’s prose, originally sung by notable New Zealand tenor Christopher Doig and this time performed by Australian James Egglestone, powerfully enters amidst a sea of jagged orchestration. This work is a passionate plea for peace, dedicated to Blake’s son Timothy.

Comfort is found in English composer Edward Elgar’s famous Enigma Variations. This recognisable work, dedicated to "my friends pictured within", established Elgar’s reputation. Written almost 100 years before the other programmed works, it is a sincere expression of friendship and love – the very basis of our own Anzac spirit.

The ‘Spirit of Anzac’ was forged when Australians and New Zealanders (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) stood side by side as comrades through two world wars. It stands for values of courage, camaraderie, compassion and commitment.

We welcome you to join New Zealand conductor Tecwyn Evans, well-known actor (and concert presenter) Peter Elliot, and your national orchestra, in honouring this Anzac spirit, to celebrate courage, selflessness and service wherever it happens in our communities.

NZSO On Anzac Eve

Tecwyn Evans Conductor
James Egglestone Tenor
Peter Elliott Readings

ROSS EDWARDS (AUS) Symphony No. 1 Da Pacem Domine
CHRISTOPHER BLAKE (NZ) Till Human Voices Wake Us
EDWARD ELGAR (ENG) Enigma Variations, Op. 36

WELLINGTON / Michael Fowler Centre / Wednesday 24 April / 6.30pm

Proud to commemorate the WW1 centenary in 2014.


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