A LONDON-born chorister who lived through the Blitz and Battle of Britain is teaming up with music icons Marina Prior and Mike Brady for a concert marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.
Mike Lyons, 86m is one the oldest members of the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir which is putting on the Till They All Come Home concert at Melbourne Town Hall on November 11.
The 50-strong choir will be joined by Australia’s leading lady of musical theatre Marina Prior and music legend Mike Brady, with accompaniment by the Australian Youth Band.
“Till They All Come Home celebrates the music of both World War I and World War II,” said Mr Lyons.
“World War I led inexorably to World War II and, despite the passage of time, both wars continue to resonate globally. Both continue to have dramatic and lasting effects on Australia. So much horror, so much death, so many lives otherwise destroyed.
“Through all of this, music both comforted and inspired. Some songs were not much more than propaganda and were destined to disappear before or soon after the cessation of hostilities. Others became big hits and have endured.”
Growing up during the London Blitz, Mr Lyons became aware of the power of music through his father, who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in World War I, and was part of a musical concert troupe entertaining servicemen and women in World War II.
“Music helped us to both survive and appreciate life, whatever the circumstances. There was no television so music, especially live music, was prized. Our family was twice bombed out of home by the Luftwaffe but we could put brave faces to the world thanks to songs such as Vera Lynn’s White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again.”
Music helped us to both survive and appreciate life, whatever the circumstances.
Marina Prior will perform a Vera Lynn medley with the choir as well as We’ll Gather Lilacs, Sally Pride of our Alley, Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye) and the Edith Piaf standard, La Vie en Rose.
Prior’s grandfather was a World War I Anzac, as were all his brothers. He was shot three times and sent back to the front three times. He was only 19 and she has all his records.
The choir’s program includes a medley of songs from both wars, a Gershwin showcase, and Welsh favourites Cwm Rhondda and The World in Union. With Mike Brady, they will also perform Eric Bogle’s 1980 hit about World War I, No Man’s Land (Willie McBride).
Lyons said the choir was proud to be joined by the singer, songwriter and producer.
“On ANZAC Day at the MCG this year, ten of our choristers joined forces with members of the Australian Women’s Choir to form the backing group for the debut performance of This Place is Their Place, Mike Brady’s song about the RSL. It was a great occasion.
Mr Brady will again perform this song at this concert as well as another song of his, called Let it Shine.
Mr Brady’s father, Robert, was a Dubliner who enlisted with the British Army in 1940 and landed in Normandy a month after D-Day, taking part in the fierce battles around Caen.
His tour of duty took him through Belgium and Holland before he was wounded in 1945 and transferred to the Royal Engineers. After the war, he served in Malaya, repairing war damage and constructing airfields. Two of Brady’s great-uncles lost their lives on the Somme during World War 1.
David Ashton-Smith, who became the choir’s director in early 2016, will direct the concert.
The Melbourne Welsh Male Choir, which formed in 1984, is the youngest of the three Welsh male choirs in Victoria.
Currently, it has around 50 members, ranging in age from the mid-40s to 88. Only 10-15 of the singers actually hail from Wales but most claim either Welsh heritage or links to the UK.
Four of the choir committee of 10 are called David.
- The Melbourne Welsh Male Choir, Till They All Come Home, Melbourne Town Hall, 11 November, 3pm. Tickets $50, concs $45, phone (03) 9800-3889, melbournewelshchoir.com.au/tickets
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