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3 December 2014

Gallipoli Songs: winners announced

Troops at Anzac Cove after landing Image: Troops at Anzac Cove after landing  
© Australian War Memorial

Australian composers Melody Eötvös, Martin Greet, Constantine Koukias, Peter McNamara and Aristea Mellos as well as New Zealander Andrew Baldwin have been announced as winners of the Gallipoli Songs composition competition. The competition was organised by ABC Classic FM and Radio New Zealand Concert, as part of commemorations for the 2015 centenary of the Gallipoli landings. Composers were invited to set authentic Gallipoli texts, for example original letters, diaries or other personal writing related to the Gallipoli campaign. Each winner gets the prize of $5,000 as well as a chance to have their work performed, recorded and broadcast on Anzac Day 2015 in Australia and New Zealand.

Aristea Mellos's work Wonder sets the diary entries by Private Ellis Silas as 'a lucid and affecting vignette for baritone and piano'. Constantine Koukias chose an extract from the same diary for the middle section of his composition Three Episodes for baritone, violin, trumpet and piano. Melody Eötvös's Wakeford Songs: 1. By Train, for mezzo and piano, sets a letter from Muriel Wakeford, an Anzac nurse in Egypt on her way to the front. Peter McNamara's The General's Garden for baritone and piano sets excerpts from a sequence of seven letters home, written by General Sir John Monash, a brigade commander in the Anzac forces at Gallipoli. The letter excerpts recount small scenes from the daily life of the conflict, as well as requests for news from his family about the current state of blooms in his garden back home.

Victorian composer Martin Greet's Just Before Dawn for mezzo-soprano, trumpet and piano sets a passage from George Wallace Bollinger's diary, describing his dash from the boats to the shore at Gallipoli and the sudden loss of a comrade. Andrew Baldwin's Dawn for baritone, violin and piano sets another extract from Ellis Silas's diary.

110 new scores were received from composers of all ages from both sides of the Tasman. Close to half of the scores received set diary entries by Private Ellis Silas (1885-1972), a young painter and illustrator from Perth who was a signaller with the Anzac forces at Gallipoli. The winning scores will now be prepared for studio recording in early 2015 in time for their premieres as part of Anzac centenary broadcasts in Australia and New Zealand.

The judging panel, consisting of Australian soprano Merlyn Quaife, composer Elliott Gyger, Stephen Adams from ABC Classic FM, Kate Mead from Radio NZ Concert, and composer Dame Gillian Whitehead, shortlisted 18 works before the final six were chosen.

Further links

'Gallipoli Songs - and the winners are...' - an article by Stephen Adams on the ABC Classic FM website.
Andrew Baldwin - composer biography on SOUNZ website


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