Mezzo-soprano’s touching tribute

An Australian War Requiem at Sydney Town Hall marks 100 years since Armistice


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TOUCHING TRIBUTE: Mezzo soprano Ashlyn Tymms, whose great-grandfathers served in World War I,  will be performing at An Australian War Requiem.

TOUCHING TRIBUTE: Mezzo soprano Ashlyn Tymms, whose great-grandfathers served in World War I, will be performing at An Australian War Requiem.

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Letters from the front: a choral tribute

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When mezzo soprano Ashlyn Tymms steps on to the stage at Sydney’s Town Hall this Remembrance Day, it will be a fitting tribute to both her great-grandfathers who served in the Great War.

Ms Tymms is one of five soloists joining the Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra for what is set to be moving performance of Christopher Bowen’s An Australian War Requiem. 

The choir commissioned composer Bowen to create the piece in 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. 

​Bowen’s score is accompanied by a libretto by Pamela Traynor, and inspired by letters and poems from soldiers at the front and mothers at home.

Scored for four-part chorus, semi-chorus, children’s chorus, five soloists and orchestra, the Australian War Requiem explores that most unbreakable of bonds — that of a mother and her son.

The piece’s world premiere was at Sydney Town Hall in 2014, to commemorate the outbreak of World War I. This year’s concert on Sunday November 11 – the second time it will be performed – will  mark 100 years since the Armistice, when the guns fell silent.

“Knowing Christopher and Pamela personally I was firstly very interested to look at the work they had created. Then sitting down with the score and listening through to the piece I was immediately engaged and struck by the immediacy of this piece,” said Ms Tymms, whose paternal great-grandfather service in the 3rd Division Artillery in France and father’s grandfather survived Gallipoli. 

“The fact that these words come from real letters from those who served at the front line makes this a very special piece of music.”

Ms Tymms said there were many images evoked throughout the piece which struck her.

“The repetition of text  ‘men have fallen and died, every day of each year, every hour, day and year’  stays with me,” she said.

“Because of the text being so closely related with actual letters written by soldiers it brings about a sense of reality. The music is directly communicating the emotions and scenes that were taking place.

A DAY TO REMEMBER: Composer Christopher Bowen will be conducting his An Australian War Requiem for the second time only at Sydney's Town Hall this Remembrance Day. Photo: Steven Siewart.

A DAY TO REMEMBER: Composer Christopher Bowen will be conducting his An Australian War Requiem for the second time only at Sydney's Town Hall this Remembrance Day. Photo: Steven Siewart.

“We get a glimpse into what it was like for these men and women. The horror, confusion, loss and sadness. The message for peace therefore rings very clear.”

Ms Tymms will be joined by soprano Taryn Fiebig, tenor Andrew Goodwin, basses Adrian Tamburini and Wade Kernot. 

Guest choirs Mercy Catholic College Choir and Waitara Voices Children’s Choir will join the Sydney University Graduate Choir and orchestra under the baton of Mr Bowen.

An Australian War Requiem will be performed at the Sydney Town Hall at 3pm on 11 November 2018.

Tickets, $27.46 – $59.11. Click HERE

Read more: Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance offers tour packages

Read more: Marina Prior, Mike Brady join Melbourne Welsh Male Choir for Armistice concert

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