'Musical memorial': Star power to honour Remembrance Day
VOICES of Remembrance is a free two-hour "musical memorial" combining star-power and local talents, especially for the Toowoomba region.
Performed at the Empire Theatre on Friday, November 9, just two days before Remembrance Day, it commemorates the centenary of the Armistice, the end of the First World War, and the city's huge contribution to the war effort.
Cairns was the only other city selected by the Department of Premier and Cabinet to receive the concert, with both representing Queensland's commitment during the First World War and the need to ensure the Anzac legacy is preserved for future generations.
The music, chosen by founder of The Choir of Hard Knocks and music director Dr Jonathon Welch AM, is described as "a mix of the energy and passion that took the soldiers to the Front, the poignancy and reality as the war went on, to the relief and joy that the war had ended".
Fitting the Anzac spirit, the two-hour concert will be led by renowned New Zealand bass-baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Australian songstress and Queensland Music Festival artistic director Katie Noonan.
They will head a mass local community choir of 150 people, backed by an orchestra of over 40 local musicians, through iconic songs from the era like Keep the Home Fires Burning, to contemporary works like And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.
The Toowoomba concert will also feature the world premiere of revered Australian composer Gordon Hamilton's work, titled simply Eleven, commissioned to mark the centenary of Armistice and Remembrance Day.
"By making the concert free, we can invite all the community to participate as audience; the community will also be participants as performers in the orchestra and choir on stage, and family and friends can experience the concert with them," a DPC spokesperson said.
Highfields' Jane Hobbs, a librarian and music enthusiast, is among the locals adding her voice, spurred by her personal family connection to the First World War and her admiration of the artists involved.
"My grandfather fought on the Western Front," Jane said.
"He won the Military Medal for saving some gun-carriage horses, for which I am extremely proud."
Toowoomba Anglican College and Preparatory School director of performing arts Nerida Eckert said she was enjoying the chance to perform alongside her husband with such high-calibre conductors, soloists and musicians, as part of the core group of about 25 Toowoomba singers within the larger choir.
"Voices of Remembrance is ... an important event to reflect on the sacrifice of ordinary Australians to provide us with a better quality of life," Nerida said.
Katie Noonan said each concert would feature a distinct musical narrative, written specifically for Toowoomba and Cairns locales by award-winning Queensland playwright and director Daniel Evans, a past recipient of the Queensland Premier's Drama Award.
"Voices of Remembrance spotlights the history and legacy of the community during the First World War, and acknowledges the vital role of indigenous soldiers and the Australian Light Horse, whose actions helped turn the tide of war in favour of the Allies," she said.
"These powerful concerts will help everyone reconnect with moving stories from the First World War, and pay tribute to the peace that came with the signing of the Armistice."
For the full program of Armistice Centenary commemorations, visit qld.gov.au/remembrance.
For tickets to the Voices of Remembrance concert, go to empiretheatre.com.au or phone 1300655299. Tickets are free but registration is required, and only tickets bought at the box office in Neil St will not incur a transaction fee.