Restored in time for Remembrance Day
Five-hour Aftermath a prelude to silence
At precisely 6.04am on Sunday, a handful of musicians will break the quiet of dawn by performing a unique work designed to build slowly towards the traditional minute of silence that marks Remembrance Day.
Named Aftermath, the fivehour event will be held at the MPavilion in Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Gardens, situated on the approach to the Shrine of Remembrance.
“I describe it more as a durational performance installation rather than a conventional piece of music,” says co-curator and clarinet player Aviva Endean.
“We really don’t know exactly how the event is going to play out — it will depend on the audience and how they choose to engage with it.”
Accompanied by Peter Knight on trumpet, electronic musician Tilman Robinson and vocalist Georgie Darvidis, Endean will also oversee a different kind of aural remembrance.
“I’ve been working on sourcing archival recordings of war, which will be pressed on to records, and those will be played all around the MPavilion space,” Endean said. “These old portable record players become what we’re calling an orchestra of remembering machines.”
The work was partly conceived to appeal to an audience that might have stayed away from public gatherings on November 11, perhaps because of a lack of connection to military service.
“I’m 32 and I feel like myself and most of my friends have never been to a Remembrance Day event. It’s not really something that’s become part of the culture of the younger generation, at least in my social circle,” said Endean, an associate artist at the Australian Art Orchestra whose debut album cinder: ember: ashes was released on Norwegian record label SOFA this year.
Aftermath contains no speeches, nor is there a correct place to stand or engage with the work — those decisions are left entirely up to the audience, as befitting its improvisational nature.
On Sunday morning, though, attendees will be encouraged to fold white poppies and write small messages that may be incorporated into Darvidis’s vocals.
Aftermath’s duration reflects the long-lasting aftershocks felt by all societies affected by war.
“It’s not about a heroic act of performing for five hours; the performers will have moments where they won’t be doing much,” said Endean. “I think those kinds of histories deserve that long to think about them. I’m certainly looking forward to giving myself that much time.”
Before and after: Peter Jackson employed ‘all our computer firepower’ to restore historical war footage. ‘They suddenly come alive as real people,’ he says of the soldiers in his film.
Aviva Endean: ‘It will depend on the audience’