A per­for­mance to re­mem­ber

The West Australian - - WEEKEND ARTS - Wil­liam Yeo­man Perth Sym­phonic Cho­rus’s Cen­te­nary Re­mem­brance Day Con­cert is at 4pm to­mor­row at the Perth Con­cert Hall. Book at perth­con­certhall.com.au.

Among the com­mem­o­ra­tions tak­ing place to­mor­row to mark the cen­te­nary of the Armistice, many will in­volve pow­er­ful, mov­ing mu­si­cal per­for­mances by a range of forces, big and small, mil­i­tary and civil­ian.

Although this year is es­pe­cially sig­nif­i­cant, mu­sic lovers such as choir mem­bers Delys Mar­tin and Jane Court­ney have al­ways found tak­ing part in Perth Sym­phonic Cho­rus’s an­nual Re­mem­brance Day An­zac con­certs a pro­found ex­pe­ri­ence, with their grand­fa­thers hav­ing fought in the Great War.

“I find, as do my fel­low cho­ris­ters, th­ese con­certs very emo­tional,” says Mar­tin, who has been a Cho­rus mem­ber since 2005.

“The com­posers who wrote mu­sic ded­i­cated to those who fought in war, make the lis­tener and cho­ris­ter re­flect on the dif­fi­cul­ties that they faced ev­ery day, that they fought for peace in our world, leav­ing us all with a deep sense of grat­i­tude for what they sac­ri­ficed.

“The two works that we are per­form­ing con­trast well. Faure’s Re­quiem is a work of great beauty and Vaughan Wil­liams’ Dona No­bis Pacem is a dra­matic work evoca­tive of war that de­scribes the ter­rors of war and makes a fi­nal plea for peace.”

Mar­tin is the “proud grand-daugh­ter” of Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ent James Park Woods. The events which re­sulted in Pri­vate Woods of the 48th Bat­tal­ion be­ing awarded the VC are com­pelling.

On Septem­ber 18, 1918 to the north-west of Mont St Quentin in France, an out­num­bered Woods and two com­rades over­came a heav­ily-armed en­emy po­si­tion and suc­cess­fully de­fended it against counter-at­tack un­til reinforcements ar­rived.

Mar­tin says 20 de­scen­dants of the Woods fam­ily vis­ited France ear­lier this year to hon­our and re­spect not only “Jimmy” but all those who fought in World War I. Jane Court­ney said her grand­fa­ther Michael John Court­ney served in the British navy be­fore ar­riv­ing in Broome “pre­sum­ably be­cause his sis­ter lived there as she was one of the found­ing nuns of St John of God in Broome”.

He worked in the pearling in­dus­try and by 1915 was co-owner of a pearling lug­ger. That same year he vol­un­teered to join the war ef­fort, en­list­ing in the 28th Bat­tal­ion, 7th in­fantry Bri­gade.

“He was one of those who sur­vived Gal­lipoli and af­ter time in Egypt went to France where he was in the bat­tle of Pozieres, where he was shot,” Court­ney says.

“At some point, ei­ther in Egypt or post-France, he worked as a para­medic.”

Michael Court­ney re­turned home with tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, yet lived to marry and fa­ther three chil­dren, one of whom was Jane Court­ney’s fa­ther.

“I of­ten won­der at the chance of any­one sur­viv­ing both Gal­lipoli and Pozieres but if he hadn’t I wouldn’t be here,” Court­ney says.

PSC founder and con­duc­tor Mar­garet Pride OAM says the mu­sic in Sun­day’s con­cert will be en­hanced by read­ings of po­ems, let­ters and other texts by ac­tor Igor Sas who, like vo­cal soloists Sara Ma­cliver and Christo­pher Richard­son, will be dressed in World War One uni­form.

“The Dona No­bis Pacem is amaz­ingly pow­er­ful,” Pride says. “It’s a bril­liant piece, not done nearly enough, yet ev­ery time we do it peo­ple are so moved.”

But then there are the spo­ken texts, “like the beau­ti­ful lit­tle poem writ­ten by the wife of a lost sol­dier to his mother on the day of his fu­neral. It’s just so pro­found”.

Ac­tor Igor Sas and so­prano Sara Ma­cliver at Kings Park.

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