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The People’s Passion

2019 Performances

'Take it travelling.’ ‘Everyone should know this history.’ ‘It’s so relevant to the climate emergency and peace-making now!’ These were the most frequent responses to our two June performances of The People’s Passion.

Written within the Chorus by Glenda Cloughley and directed by Johanna McBride, the Passion stories and songs tell of women’s far-sighted political vision and compassionate, imaginative global actions during and after the First World War.

Like the earlier 2015 and 2018 Passions, this year’s production coincided with the centenary of a well-known historical event – the signing of the disastrous Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.  Glenda’s updates to the Passion score and Narrator’s script revealed more unknown, inspiring achievements by ‘those dangerous women’, as Winston Churchill called them.

The new stories and music included three Australians’ attendance at the 1919 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Congress in Zurich and Eglantyne Jebb’s founding of the Save the Children Fund.  The finale linked those stories together with 16-year-old Greta Thunberg’s founding of the School Strike for Climate movement and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s leadership of her country after terrorist atrocities in March this year.

Our Citizens Chorus of women, soloists, instrumentalists and Luminescence Children’s Choir clearly moved the 400 people in our capacity audiences at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C).

Invitations for the audience to join the singing were taken up enthusiastically. The audience loved Miriam Pickard’s lively narration. Many people commented on the beauty and feeling quality of the singing by chorus and soloists Julia Wee, Jenny Sawer, AJ America, Maartje Sevenster, Meg Rigby, Kate Champion, Vanessa Hooley and Glenda Cloughley. You can read the program here.

Encouragement to perform the work in Australian schools and tour it to regions and overseas were common responses in the audience survey and feedback after the shows.

See the review by Barbie Robinson and Richard Scherer of Living Arts Canberra here.  The People’s Passion is the front-page lead story of the first edition of Engage, the ACC&C’s new quarterly newsletter.

Click to enlarge the photos.

Storytellers   Miriam   Children

Storytellers Glenda Cloughley, Maarthe Sevenster                    Miriam Pickard, our narrator                                                   the Children's Chorus
Meg Rigby

instruments   Soloists  Chorus

    the instrumental ensemble                                            soloists Maartje Sevenster, Julia Wee, AJ America;             Johanna conducting the Chorus

 

Recordings coming soon.

11 November 2018

Reviews by David Pereira and Alison Craswell

Peace is not merely an absence of war
Peace is the nurture of human life
Yes, peace is the nurture of life!

A Chorus of Women marked the centenary of the WWI Armistice with a sell-out, standing-ovation performance of The People’s Passion at the Chapel of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. Our big choral drama moved singers and audience alike, sparking much reflection about the contribution music and great wise stories could make to Peace on Earth now.

The People’s Passion, written by Glenda Cloughley, tells the poetic history of a global web of daring women from warring and neutral nations who set a 100-year agenda for international law and human rights when they met with the goal of ending WWI and enabling permanent peace. 

With Johanna McBride directing, 50 passionate Canberrans sang in the women’s and children’s choruses alongside Narrator Miriam Pickard and vocal soloists and instrumentalists who included some of the city’s finest musicians.

Chorus

We reach beyond war to the higher law
that bids us live in peace

Photo by John Mitchell, The Eastlaker

Although the performance was one of six concerts and numerous other events on the centenary of the WW1 Armistice, it proved a popular choice for Canberrans, perhaps looking for a new narrative to that provided by the usual war commemorations. The Chapel was full to overflowing with an audience of some 250 seated in the main hall – spilling out into one of the outside alcoves – and the upstairs gallery.

The performance started with the ringing of the large bell outside the Chapel to represent the peace bells sounding on 11 November 1918, and ended with the audience joining in singing a citizens commitment to peace and, finally, the same bell sounding hope for peace in the future.

Children

We call through time the memories and dreams
of the circles of love that sing our lives around and round ...

... from The Invocation (Listen to the live recording)
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

Storytellers

And how shall so much lament turn to lullaby
War has no midwife to deliver new life

Storytellers Meg Rigby, Judith Clingan and Glenda Cloughley with Jenny Sawer as the Poet Nurse Mary Borden
(Listen to a live recording of Conspiracy and The Coffin of Night)
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

Miriam

'The songs of life are always trying to get themselves heard. Around the censorship. Beneath the propaganda.
Even in field hospitals near the trenches the songs keep up their irrepresssible search for voices ...'

Our Narrator Miriam Pickard
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

The cast

Some of Canberra's leading musicians joined A Chorus of Women to perform The People’s Passion. Internationally renowned soprano Louise Page OAM sang the role of Jane Addams, Nobel Peace Laureate and President of the 1915 and 1919 International Congresses of Women, in one of the final performances of her retirement year. (Listen to Louise leading the Chorus in singing the First Resolution passed by the 1915 Congress)

Performance artist and storyteller Miriam Pickard was the Narrator. Other cast members included mezzo-soprano AJ America as Dr Aletta Jacobs, The Netherlands’ first woman doctor who initiated the Congress; soprano Jenny Sawer as the Great Grandmother and poet nurse Mary Borden; mezzo-soprano Julia Wee as Australian pacifist Vida Goldstein; contralto Maartje Sevenster as Julia Grace Wales, a young academic from the University of Wisconsin and author of a plan to end the war through mediation by neutral countries; Judith Clingan AM, Meg Rigby and Glenda Cloughley as Storytellers.

Julia_Wee

Two thousand years of the gospel of peace And men have again rushed to war
We women must lead, we must show the way to harmony and peace.

Julia Wee as Vida Goldstein (Listen to a live recording of the Australian Chorus)
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

Jenny_Sawer

Lay lulay, my little babe
And when the world's at war, it seems love's circles are all torn

Jenny Sawer as Young Great Grandmother singing The Canticle of Night (Listen to a live recording)
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

Spring 1915

Here in the neutral Netherlands we feel the torment of war
We take up our duty to call together an international Congress of Women

A J America as Dr Aletta Jacobs (Listen to a live recording)
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

Maartje_Sevenster

Hear the music of the cosmos singing
Vast like a chorus of all children in the world
Filling earth and sky

Maartje Sevenster as Julia Grace Wales
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

Louise_Page

The Children's Chorus:   In our dreams our mums and dads ...
Louise Page as Jane Addams:  That must be all these people here!

Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

The cast also included a Children’s Choir prepared by national treasure Judith Clingan AM, and a small ensemble of well-known Canberra instrumentalists, including Max McBride on double bass, Tim Hollo on viola, Gillian Pereira on cello, Fiona Dickson on flute, Lucus Allerton on piano and Andrew Purdam on percussion.

Instruments  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  String players (front row from left): Anna    Johnstone, Gillian Pereira, Tim Hollo,    (second row): Max McBride

Instruments1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Rehearsing (from left): Tim Hollo, Lucus  Allerton, Brian Yi, Fiona Dickson

Instruments2

Lucus_Max

Left photo: Danny Pratt on the drums and the Company, Right photo: Lucus Allerton and Max McBride
Photos by Lynnette Audsley, Honey Nelson and Janet Salisbury

 

AJ_Chorus

Women of the world, we call you!

A J America as Dr Aletta Jacobs with the Chorus
Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

This visionary story of the peaceful world we want for our children is Glenda's reworking of the highly successful 2015 community oratorio A Passion for Peace, which we performed during our five-day Festival for Peace at the end of April 2015 to mark the centenary of the 1915 International Congress of Women. See Meet the women who dared to change the world for further historical information.

You can download a program here.

audience

Photo by John Mitchell, The Eastlaker

 

The performance was attended by the Belgian Ambassador, His Excellency Mr Marc Mullie, the Deputy Head of Mission the Austrian Embassy, Dr Johannes Aigner, and Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Rt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard. Audience members were very engaged and moved — rising for an immediate and sustained standing ovation at the end.

 

Janet

Giving thanks amid the applause ... Chorus singer Janet Salisbury who helped bring the Passion to be
from our creative and organising hub whose other members are Glenda Cloughley, Johanna McBride, Meg Rigby and Sarah Stitt

Photo by Lynnette Audsley

 

See above for details of our 2019 performances.

 

Media Coverage and Reviews of The People’s Passion

Eminent Australian cellist and composer David Pereira and Canberra musician Alison Craswell reviewed the 2018 performance.

Listen to Rachael Kohn’s interview with Glenda Cloughley and Johanna McBride on Radio National’s program The Spirit of Things

Listen to Sophie Singh’s extended interview with Janet Salisbury, Johanna McBride and Glenda Cloughley on 2XX (two half-hour broadcasts, 4 December and 11 December 2018)

Read Steve Evans’ preview in The Canberra Times

 

Here are some comments from audience members:

‘I never knew about the WW1 women’s peace movement, and I think it is so important for people to know because we grow so despondent in today’s culture about the way to actively work for peace.’

‘The People’s Passion was a brilliant piece of music drama!’

‘I have always believed that art is the path to higher understanding of our humanity, and the key link to humans reaching further to improve and develop culture. Which is why I would come again. Thank you so much for your work.’

‘The People's Passion performance was tremendous.  It combined the amazing history of the 1915 Women's Conference with a stunning choral performance by the Chorus of Women, and the children's choir. I'd certainly attend again.’

‘Last night was really superb, and I must admit the tears flowed. I believe art is the bridge to higher spiritual life – so thank you for providing opportunities for that bridge!’ (from the mother of a boy in the Children’s Chorus)

‘The historical conversation always comes back to the desire for peace – if this was always the first step then maybe the wars wouldn’t proceed. I think it is important to have more discussion – why didn’t the [women’s] movement get more traction – would it be different today? Before any Government commits forces to arenas of battle there should be discussion with a Women’s Peace Movement.’

‘There is not enough talk/action about actually achieving peace as a primary outcome, without battle. We should encourage and foster greater knowledge of the history, actions and philosophy of the Women’s Peace Movement – perhaps a chance to highlight this is International Women’s Day events as a start to the conversation. Then there is the potential to talk to the upcoming generation whom I’m sure are not aware of this part of history.’

‘My guests found the performance very moving and many commented they had tears in their eyes particularly at the end.’

‘Congratulations on a fabulous performance. I loved hearing that beautiful music and the powerful words once again, and I just had to sing along (very quietly) to some of it!’ (From a singer in our 2015 Passion.)

‘I took my elderly mother (95 in January) who served in the WAAF in WW2 and whose father was in the Light Horse in the middle east in WW1. She found it hard to hear [has a hearing aid] … However, she got enough of it to be quite profoundly moved and thanked me again and again for taking her.  I also found it musically and emotionally very moving. I will look out for your concert next year, and will bring mum, assuming she is still with us.’
 

‘I thought the whole event, the performance, the content, the ambience in the room, the music especially, and the poetry inherent in it all, was just wonderful. I came along to help commemorate a very important world event which, had its message been heeded, could have spared so much death and suffering.  The message for our own era is unmistakable.  I would certainly attend a similar event again. I had read previously about the WW1 women's peace movement.  How typical of men (and not just of that era) to ignore the good sense of the women of the day.’

‘The Passion is rousing and moving and it makes me almost believe women’s voices can rise up and make a difference.  Almost!  What a grand vision.’

‘I wonder whether you have approached the Australian War Memorial to have a reference to the 1915 conference included in the relevant section of their displays?’

‘I congratulate you all on a most professional performance - probably the best of all our efforts.  I did appreciate how the women's stories came to the fore so loudly and clearly. Pity they were so ignored and over-run by the men, as they are to this very day. It was this fact that hit me the hardest.’



 

Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees 2019





John Minns from the Refugee Action Campaign had the idea of a flash mob singing Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' at the 2019 Palm Sunday Rally for Refugees in Garema Place, Canberra. He asked A Chorus of Women to make it happen. We gladly accepted this opportunity to sing for what we want to happen. Glenda Cloughley wrote new lyrics with the title 'Song of Life'.

Johanna McBride arranged the music for choir, soloists and instruments and we invited musician friends - among them soloists Tobias Cole and Tim Hollo, and instrumentalists Lucus Allerton, Max McBride and Gillian Pereira.

 

instrumentalists Max McBride, Gillian Pereira, Lucus Allerton,
Fiona Dickson and Georgie Baron
The citizen's chorus


We gathered more than a hundred voices for our citizens' chorus, a mixed chorus to flow onto the stage and many voices in Garema Place to encourage the singing. Rehearsals were a well-kept secret in Canberra. On the day the 5000 strong crowd joined in enthusiastically.

 


Mission Climate! - a fundraiser for the Climate Council

A Chorus of Women and friends raised more than $6600 for Australia’s Climate Council in a lively Canberra imSpring evening of music and personal reflections about climate change.

MISSION CLIMATE! met our goal of bringing music and science into harmony, with ‘inspiring’, ‘informative’, ‘wonderful’ the most-used words in responses from presenters and audience.  All the money raised has gone directly to help sustain the Climate Council’s provision of authoritative climate information.

Founded in 2013, when 20,000 citizens donated $1 million through crowd-funding within a week of the Federal Government abolishing the Climate Commission, the Climate Council still relies on public donations to produce reports, webinars and public forums.  See www.climatecouncil.org.au.

Community pride in supporting the Council seemed to unite everyone who filled the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C), where A Chorus of Women is in residence.  Led by MCs Janet Salisbury from Chorus and ABC Radio’s Lish Fejer, we began by honouring Earth. We then set out through the anxiety of watching and waiting, listening to calls to action and inspiration from singers, scientists and people directly affected by climate change. We arrived together at possibilities for wisdom and regeneration that seem ripe for activation, given the way audience voices leapt to join the singing in The Reconciliation music from A Chorus of Women’s mythic climate change drama, The Gifts of the Furies, which finishes with a 21st century setting of the 2500-year-old Hymn to Gaia.

Climate Councillor Professor Will Steffen gave the first of several brief, moving reflections on the personal experience of living with knowledge about climate change.

The MISSION CLIMATE! program included music from Canberra choir The Cyrenes, Nitya Bernard Parker and friends, Kirsten Duncan, Maartje Sevenster, and a fine instrumental ensemble as well as selections from A Chorus of Women’s large repertoire of songs – all directed by Johanna McBride.

Violinist and conductor Rowan Harvey-Martin introduced her vision for The Blue Planet Orchestra in a moving tribute to her daughter and other young people who carry worries about climate change because their parents’ generation is not yet acting responsibly for the long-term future. A related message came from Abuera Uruaaba, a senior lawyer in the Pacific Republic of Kiribati, where climate-linked rises in sea level threaten the island home of future generations.

Singer and environmental consultant Dr Maartje Sevenster said she felt ‘uplifted by the shared understanding and experience’ of the evening.  CSIRO senior research scientist Dr Nicky Grigg spoke of the delight of many a Chorus event since she brought her voice and clarinet to our climate change drama in the 2007 program of National Science Week.

The evening included a short video on the plight of the Great Barrier Reef, featuring Climate Councillor Professor Tim Flannery and Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie.  Graeme Kelleher AO, the first Chairman and CEO of the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority, described MISSION CLIMATE! as ‘an inspiring event’. ‘I hope its message will spread quickly through our community,’ he said in relation to the need for action that requires governments to replace short-term priorities with wise, forceful action to stop climate change.

Professor Stephen Pickard, Executive Director of the ACC&C, gave a personal reflection as a member of the inter-faith group Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. Thanking the Chorus for the inspiring and moving evening, he said:  ‘When music and the arts join with science and the sacred the whole is always more than the sum of the parts.’  Quoting the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes who observed that a threefold cord cannot easily be broken, he said Mission Climate was just such a threefold cord ‘and a great encouragement’.

Writing to Chorus after the event, Professor Steffen thanked us for the ‘wonderful event’ and reported this lasting impression:  ‘I was struck by how we humans have a very long tradition of using singing as a way of expressing our feelings about the rest of the living world, and about the Earth itself,’ he said.  ‘And although earlier societies and indigenous cultures around the world could not have had the modern scientific understanding of the Earth System, their songs had not only the word "Earth" in them, but also showed a really deep understanding of the Earth as a single, complex system and that we humans are embedded in it. Our scientific understanding has come really late! And the songs composed by the Chorus do a wonderful job of flow effortlessly from these earlier pieces of music, and remind us of the very long relationship we've had with the rest of the Earth System around us.’

Click here to read a selection of the many comments we received after the event.

Click here to see the report of our event on the Climate Council website.

Click here to see photos taken at the final rehearsal and on the night of the fundraiser.

Click here to download a program.

Listen to an interview with Janet Salisbury and Johanna McBride from A Chorus of Women and Barbie Robinson from   ArtSound FM.  

 

 

PfP Banner

Festival for Peace featuring A Passion for Peace

About the FestivalPassion

Our major project for 2015 brought a radically fresh, life-enhancing perspective to First World War commemorations. At the end of April, A Chorus of Women presented a 5-day Festival for Peace featuring music, public forums, conversations, a 1-day workshop hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom on the theme Women’s Power to Stop War, storytelling for children, schools events, displays and more.

The festival was inspired by over 1200 women from 12 warring and neutral nations who established a framework for permanent peace and great advances in international law and institutions when they met in The Hague for the International Congress of Women, which was the only international peace conference of the First World War.

The centrepiece of the festival was premiere performances of A Passion for Peace by the Canberra composer-librettist and Jungian analyst Dr Glenda Cloughley. The Passion is a choral drama that enlivens the classical tradition of oratorio to create a vibrant form of community participation in the great issues of our time. The oratorio surrounds the history of this remarkable congress with present day stories of the grief and trauma of war, which is still reverberating down the generations from Gallipoli to the present day, and our responsibility to future generations. The voices of soloists sound from among a Citizens’ Chorus to reflect that the first homes of civic and international harmony are families and communities.

The 1200 women who gathered in The Hague knew this and wrote it into their resolutions that gave a method of continuous mediation to end the First World War together with the principles of permanent peace. These resolutions heralded the great advances in human rights and international law since 1915, including the criminalisation of women’s violation in war, and the establishment of the League of Nations (later the UN) and the International Court of Justice.

Exactly 100 years after the International Congress of Women, we presented the premiere season of A Passion for Peace in Albert Hall with a large chorus of Canberra women, a children’s chorus, a men’s ensemble, some of Canberra’s best known soloists (including Louise Page, Angela Giblin, Christina Wilson, Jenny Sawer, Margaret Sim and Judy Clingan) and some of Canberra’s finest instrumentalists, under the musical direction of Johanna McBride. The production was supported by a grant from artsACT grant.

A Passion for Peace on Vimeo.PassionVideo

Download a copy of the program and a libretto of A Passion for Peace.

Purchase a copy of the DVD for $25. Postage is $5 or you can arrange pick up:
Northside - Meg Rigby ((0406 375 482)
Southside - Sarah Stitt (0432 867 017)

Bank details for electronic transfer are on our Contacts page.

 

View our FESTIVAL PROGRAM.

Read a report of the festival by Marilyn Chalkley and Glenda Cloughley.

Read a transcript of a radio interview with the Netherlands Ambassador, who opened the Thursday night performance of A Passion for Peace.

Read about the The People's Passion, a re-working of A Passion for Peace for the Centenary of Armistice Day, 11 November 2018 and for the Centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, 28 and 30 June 2019.
 

 

Sing for Peace - Walk for Climate

On 21 September 2014, the International Day for Peace, A Chorus of Women joined a global citizens' call for action on climate change which saw more than 600 000 people in the streets around the world. Locally, we joined a 'festival of community action', working together with a coalition of climate groups including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

We started our event at the top of Dairy Farmers Hill with a 'Call to Peace' and peace meditation lead by Dru Yoga. Then we lead a singing walk of around 70 people down to the Village Centre, where we did a flash mob style action to sing songs for peace and care for the Earth. See a report by Sarah Stitt and photos at this page.
 

Break the Silence - rally for refugees

On Palm Sunday, 13 April 2014, at 1pm, A Chorus of Women sang at this rally attended by around 3000 people which brought together a broad range of citizens' voices to speak out for a humane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees. Speakers included former Catholic Bishop Pat Power and Mustafa Jawadi, a young Afghani asylum seeker. The rally was organised by the Refugee Action Committee and supported by churches, unions, Labor for Refugees, the Greens and others. We presented our song 'Lest We Forget' with a focus on the treatment of asylum seekers, and two new songs written for this occasion, 'The Deep Red Heart of Our Country' by Honey Nelson and 'A Home Away from Home' by Johanna McBride. Click here to see pictures, lyrics and hear the recordings.
 

'Seasons of Renewal - Lawsongs at the High Court'

 

As part of the Canberra Centenary Musical Offering program, A Chorus of Women presented this concert at the Australian High Court. Some of Canberra's finest singers and instrumentalists joined us in the beautiful space of the High Court foyer. We called our concert 'Seasons of Renewal - Lawsongs in the High Court'. Click here to read the foreword and list of participants. This was the program.

Our mission reflects a deep commitment to express, through music, our shared longing for a just and harmonious future. Our program on 1 December included a selection of our original songs that give voice to citizen concerns and longings for peace, and care for each other and our environment.

You can watch an excerpts from the concert, 'The Hymn to Gaia' below. The lyrics are a modern translation by Jill Hayman of the Homeric Hymn to the Earth - c 500 BC

 

 

Seasons of Renewal




A Chorus of Women 10th Anniversary

For our anniversary concert 'Open the Doors of the Chambers' we were joined in the Foyer of Parliament House by several Government Ministers and inspiring Arab women leaders. The concert opened with the Lament we sang ten years ago for the people of Iraq. Programs with lyrics of our songs will be available at the information desk in the foyer.

Click here to hear a recording of the song in the Australian War Memorial.

Click here to read a Canberra Times article about the event by Ian Warden.

18.3.2003

Click on the image to enlarge



 

Canberra Centenary CD

In our 10th anniversary year and the Canberra Centenary year we also launched a CD with classical, jazz-rock and community versions of the song 'I Am Ethos' as a centenary gift to our hometown. We hope it will get you singing and maybe creating your own version. Click to hear sound bites of all three versions and download sheet music of the a cappella and the community versions. Contact us to order a CD. Ethos CD


Anzac Eve Peace Vigils

The Anzac Eve Peace Vigils have become a Canberra tradition. We have co-hosted and participated in this event every year since 2011.

Since 2018, the Vigil has been included in the annual ACT Heritage Festival held in April. We are grateful to the ACT Government for this recognition of an event which is now very much part of the ACT events calendar.

In this event we seek to remember all the victims of war and violence and to respectfully re-imagine our commemoration of Australia's war history. Our focus is on remembering the dead together with the other traumatic impacts of war, which touch nearly all Australian families -- including Aboriginal people, refugees and migrants. We also lament the terrible losses suffered by our First Nations people since the arrival of the white settlers in 1788.

Our 2014 flyer below shows the typical flow of the event.

AnzacVigil2014

We gather with singers and musicians at the top of Mount Ainslie at sunset and Chorus leads community singing of well- known peace rounds and songs. As dusk falls, a peace fire and the beautiful lanterns made by Graeme Dunstan are lit. Local elders welcome us to country and A Chorus of Women sing ‘Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve’ by Glenda Cloughley, which includes solo verses of lament sung by a white woman (Glenda Cloughley) and an Aboriginal woman and member of the Stolen Generation (Judith Kelly)

welcome

This is followed by a lantern-lit procession down the mountain bush track past the Aboriginal War Memorial Grove and into Remembrance Park, where we regroup for further community singing and, in some years, poetry readings and songs from other local musicians.

lanterns

After a brief regroup at Remembrance Park, the lantern procession and peace fire continues to the forecourt of the Australian War Memorial where we gather in a circle and invite poetry, song, stories and prayer that invite lament for victims of all wars and open our minds to peace.

CoW

In recent years, this ceremony has included the following Ode to Future Generations:
Those who are young and yet unborn
Will live in the future we leave …
The ancestors are behind us
Our children run on ahead
As the sun sets and rises again,
We will seek peace on Earth
Words by Janet Salisbury and Graeme Dunstan

After this ceremony those who wish to stay for the night vigil continue down Anzac Parade to the Vigil site outside the Anzac Park West building, where they share stories, songs and conversation for building a peaceful future.

Read Annie Didcott's account of the inaugural Anzac Eve Peace Vigil in 2011 written for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF).Watch a video of the first Anzac Eve Peace Vigil in 2011.

Read Ivan Roberts (formerly Minister of City Uniting Church) beautiful piece about the 2013 ceremony. Go to our photo galleries to view more pictures of Anzac Vigil.

In 2014 as well as participating in the Vigil we hosted a conversation with the title 'Remembering war - seeking peace' on 15 April, 6pm at Manning Clark House (for more information see below)

Celebrating Ethos, Spirit of the Community

Civic Square, Canberra      5.30 - 7.15pm Thursday 15 December 2011

This event included a ceremony, stories and songs to renew the meaning of Ethos as the spirit of our community. Click here to view an invitation.

This spirit touched the Legislative Assembly with ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher among the MLAs from all three parties joining to co-sponsor the celebration.

Created at a time when Canberra was more plan than metropolis, the future spirit that master sculptor Tom Bass dreamed into the form of Ethos is our city's first and best loved artwork. Along with words he heard her speak during his 90th year in 2005, she continues to inspire our citizens' chorus. We often include her in our community events for peace and caring for the Earth.

Ethos Poem
 





If you attended one of our performances of The Gifts of the Furies -- Glenda's mythic story-song about relations between people and Earth -- you will have heard the 'I am Ethos' song and seen Ethos come to life as an embodiment of community wisdom. On 15 December, Ethos was again sung by Judith Clingan, our gloriously voiced musician-composer who has taught thousands of Canberrans to love singing.

Tom Bass regarded Ethos as the most significant of all his public sculptures. In his autobiography, he wrote: "I saw my task as being to create an emblem that would express the real possibilities of a place like Canberra. I began with a saucer-like base ... In that bowl you can see the Burley Griffin plan and the topographical features of Canberra. The figure rises up out of this. She wears a garment and its fabric is the people of Canberra, the ever-changing community... She is winged, which expresses the spirit of the place."

Click here to read Ethos's substantial citation in the ACT Heritage Register, including more notes on her symbolism, and quotes from newspapers of 1959 - 61 at. For more information about Ethos read Glenda Cloughley's paper Looking at Ethos.


The Gifts of the Furies

Glenda Cloughley’s big story song about climate change is perhaps the first Australian artwork to recognise the mythic scale of the climate change crisis. In beautiful new poetry and music it portrays the predicament of everyone including the artist whose soul is possessed by the fate of the age. Like the myth of the Eumenides the Greek poet Aeschylus dramatized in The Oresteian Trilogy, the new work moves from the dark core of our present situation on the warming Earth towards the possibility of harmony between people and nature.

To hear the big voice of our Citizens' Chorus in the Finale of the work, click here.

2011 Performance

On 30 October 2011 at 10am presented The Gifts of the Furies at City Uniting Church, Northbourne Avenue, Canberra as an act of worship to a congregation of 200. This was part of a series of events at the church in October under the title 'Caring for Creation'. Click here for more information.

This performance followed our participation in last year's climate change forum at City Uniting Church. Other presenters were Bishop George Browning, former Anglican bishop of Canberra and Goulburn and Dr. John Williams, NSW Commissioner of Natural Resources and member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. Click here for a printable flyer.

2010 Performances

The 2010 performances were presented by A Chorus of Women in partnership with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House on 11, 18 and 25 September. The project was supported by a grant from ArtsACT. All three performances were booked out two weeks before the premiere.

Click here for more background on the story and the structure of the work.

Click here for a two-page printable flier.

We sang and played this ancient and new storysong in Kings Hall, with a procession into the House of Representatives, for the Trial - the first courtroom drama in Western theatre history. Here Lord Reason, the god of civilisation, confronted the Furies of Earth, the divinities of Nature. As former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke announced in the last performance - in the story the votes are tied. But our audiences voted 2:1 in favour of Mother Nature.

The performances ended back in Kings Hall, with a reconciliation between the forces of Nature and urban civilisation - led by Ethos, the spirit of community. The audience joined the Citizens' Chorus in commenting on our predicament and singing the feeling of citizens back into the theatre, in the Museum of Australian Democracy. Audience responses were enthusiastic. Former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke had this to say:

... I want to say to you Glenda and all those associated with you how profoundly I appreciated and enjoyed the production. The basically important thing for me Glenda is this:  I share your view that the challenge of our environment is not second, third or fourth.  It is the number one issue. And that you have had the imagination and the vision to present this issue as a challenge in such an imaginative way –– we are all indebted to you.  Thank you very much.

Click here to see a 10 minute video of excerpts of the last performance. Click here to see some photos from the final rehearsals.

A post performances forum was faciliated by Chorus member Dr. Janet Salisbury and attended by members of the cast and audiences, including Prof. Val Brown from the Fenner School, ANU, Maxine Cooper, the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and Dr. John Williams from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

A Chorus of Women welcomes your financial support 
Our production costs for The Gifts of the Furies have exceeded the ACT Government funding for the work and we would be grateful for any additional financial support. Donations can be made by cheque to ‘A Chorus of Women’ (mail to: A Chorus of Women, c/- 44 Dumaresq St, Dickson, ACT 2602) or by electronic funds transfer (Account name: A Chorus of Women  BSB:  062908 Account number: 10436154).

2009 PerformancesFuries CD

 

CD OF THE MARCH 2009 PERFORMANCES
To order a 2 CD set of 'The Gifts of the Furies', contact us.

 

 

What can we do but wait in the dark
and watch while the weather roars in?

 

A Chorus of Canberra Citizens sang an answer to this question about the changing climate in two premiere performances of The Gifts of the Furies in the Great Hall of the Australian National Universityon 29 and 30 March 2009.

The March performances of The Gifts of the Furies were presented by A Chorus of Women with Wayfarers Australia and other choristers under the musical direction of Johanna McBride and Judith Clingan AM. After both performances the audience was invited to a conversation with the composer, performers and Chorus. Artist Bronwyn Goss writes:

The two premiere performances of The Gifts of the Furies on the Sunday and Monday nights, in which A Chorus of Women were joined by Wayfarers Canberra, were almost sold out. A Chorus of Women has risen in Canberra, as a phenomenon of our times and its place - a city state at the centre of Australian democracy. ‘Our times’ constitute an increasingly politically savvy and educated population impatient with spin and hubris who are longing for wisdom from decision-makers. And A Chorus of Women has become known for their synthesis of this emotionally intelligent citizens’ voice that speaks through original music and theatre into the concerns of our age. Wayfarers, led by Canberra’s musical genius and inspirational creative spirit, Judith Clingan AM, added sweet young voices and rich male tones to the warm Chorus sound.

Bronwyn Goss goes on to write about her experience as a member of the audience:

There is something about singing that opens the heart and this story-song has activated an emotional telos that runs from a sense of doom towards its longing for wisdom. And the audience can hardly wait to sing their promise with the chorus. You wouldn’t believe how good this felt – to sing my citizen’s voice into this archetypal healing track. ... 'The Gifts of the Furies' is Glenda Cloughley’s own wise and compassionate gift of cultural therapy against the dilemmas of our time. It now needs to do its work amongst us all.

To read Bronwyn Goss' full report, click here.

FURTHER PERFORMANCES
We are actively seeking other opportunities to present the The Gifts of the Furies in whole or part, including in association with academic and scientific meetings. Please contact us or Glenda on 6239 6483 or at glenda.cloughley@ozemail.com.au.

 

Canberra Conversations

A Chorus of Women have started a series of citizen conversations on topics of importance for our future. The aim is to see how community engagement and wise decision making can be helped by a more open dialogue among citizens, scientists, artists, business people and policy makers.These ‘Canberra Conversations’ include artistic expression and facilitated discussion to create an environment for active engagement by the people with important issues that will shape the future of the city and country. The aim is to explore different perspectives on issues and try to find the common ground that will inform wise actions.
 

If you would like to hear more about this initiative or to help out in any way, please contact us.
 

Here is a list of all Canberra conversations A Chorus of Women held between 2009 and 2014. The conversations were facilitated by Chorus woman and dialogue practitioner Janet Salisbury.

 

Remembering war – seeking peace

A ‘Canberra Conversation’ presented by A Chorus of Women

Tuesday 15 April 2014, 6.00–9.00 pm
Manning Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest, ACT
A light supper will be provided

Participants at A Chorus of Women’s Centenary Canberra Conversation, ‘Our Canberra’, in July 2013, suggested that Canberra should seek ways to change from a city of war memorials to a city of peace memorials. A Chorus of Women is actively seeking ways to address this idea both through development of a ‘singing peace memorial’— a community oratorio called A Passion for Peace — which we will perform in April 2015 (click here for more information) and through our other conversations and singing activities.

At this pre-Anzac Day conversation we explored the following questions:

  • How can we best respect the memory of loss and trauma suffered by Aboriginal people during Australian settlement?
  • How can we best respect the memory of all those who have been killed or traumatised by war?
  • How could the Anzac story help Australia to contribute to a just and sustainable international peace?

This conversation was a preliminary event for the Canberra Peace Convergence (21–25 April 2014) and the 4th annual Anzac Eve Lantern Parade and Peace Vigil (24 April 2014). For more information see below and visit the IPAN Website.

For more information about this conversation see our flyer and read the report.

CONTACTS: For further information contact Janet Salisbury (Canberra Conversations facilitator): janetsalisbury25@gmail.com,
mob 0416 167 280; or Sarah Stitt: sarahstitt@grapevine.com.au, mob 0432 867 017

‘Canberra Conversations’ is the registered name of a community initiative of A Chorus of Women

 

'Our Canberra' - Centenary Canberra Conversation

was held on 28 July, from 1.15 - 4.30 at the Pavilion of the National Arboretum. Click here to read a report.

CCC Flyer

The Centenary Canberra Conversation is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government.

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In the intimate space of the newly opened Margaret Whitlam Pavilion with sweeping views of Civic, the Parliamentary triangle and beyond we hosted the Centenary Canberra Conversation (go to our events page for more information on previous Canberra Conversations).

Building on these previous gatherings we endeavoured to broaden the theme from environmental sustainability to explore how the diverse threads of community, business, academic, artistic, public service and political life could interact more holistically in creating the future of the city. Click here for a printable flyer. Click here to see photos of the event.

 

FROM PROMISE TO ACTION: How will we turn the tide on Canberra's carbon emissions?

In association with the ANU Climate Change Institute
sponsored by MLAs Mary Porter AM and Caroline Le Couteur
with assistance from an ACT Government Environment Grant
ACT Legislative Assembly, Civic
Monday 1 August 2011, 6pm for 6.30-9.30pm

Read the flyer or more information click here. If you would like to read a report of this event, click here.

For further information on Canberra Conversations and other activities of A Chorus of Women, see www.chorusofwomen.org  or email Janet Salisbury on janetsalisbury25@gmail.com.
 

FILLING IN CANBERRA: Can a denser city still be ‘a home among the gum trees’?
In association with the ANU Climate Change Institute
ACT Legislative Assembly, Civic
Tuesday 31 May 2011, 6-9 pm

Canberra’s population is expected to increase by about 80,000 in the next 20 years. During the Canberra 2030: Time to Talk forums in 2010, and at our previous Canberra Conversation, people expressed support for ‘well designed’ urban infill (rather than increasing urban sprawl) to accommodate this increased population. Meanwhile, 2010 also saw community discussion about the removal of some large, well loved trees from streets and parks around Canberra, and an investigation into the management of Canberra’s ‘urban forest’ overall.

This conversation explored the following questions about the opportunities and challenges of creating a denser and more sustainable city:

  • What do we mean by ‘well designed’? What approaches to density offer the best sustainability outcomes – socially, culturally, economically and environmentally?
  • How important are urban trees for Canberra? What contribution do they make to sustainability?
  • How can we best contribute to ACT processes and regulatory frameworks for implementing ‘good design’?

For further information about this conversation view the flyer by clicking here. For a summary of the event click here.

 

CANBERRA - CELEBRATING 2010 AND IMAGINING 2030: What could be possible when Canberra citizens, business and government work together to co-create a sustainable city?

In association with the ANU Climate Change Institute
ACT Legislative Assembly, Civic
Wednesday 1 December 2010, 6-9 pm

At this end of year Canberra Conversation we celebrated recent achievements and looked to what might be possible for 2030. We celebrated 2010 as the year that the ACT set a 40% emissions target for 2020 and started a bold community dialogue about the future of Canberra — Canberra 2030: Time to Talk.

To hear the beginning of our chosen theme song for our conversation on 1 December, click here (words and music by Glenda Cloughley).

To view a flyer, click here. For a summary of this event, click here.

 

Canberra's future: Thinking together about sustainability, development and growth

In association with the ANU Climate Change Institute
ACT Legislative Assembly, Civic
Thursday 27 May 2010, 6-9 pm

This Canberra Conversation explored what a ‘sustainable’ future for Canberra might look like, focusing on development of the built environment in Canberra. For more information click here. For a summary of the event click here.

 

Finding wisdom on climate change across the political divide

A Canberra Conversation hosted by A Chorus of Women and the ANU Climate Change Institute
with assistance from an ACT Government Environment Grant
ACT Legislative Assembly, Civic
Thursday 4 March 2010, 6-9 pm

At this Canberra Conversation we considered the recent debate in Australia about emissions trading and the outcomes of the Copenhagen summit, and facilitated a community dialogue around the following questions:

  • Can we turn a ‘diabolical policy issue’ into an opportunity for wise action?
  • How could our political leaders and parties work together to find common ground?
  • Could the ACT Legislative Assembly model a better way of engaging with citizens and working together across the political divide?
  • Could citizens encourage and empower political leaders to act wisely?

While focusing on climate change, the aim of this conversation was to explore how dialogue can provide the basis for community consideration of difficult and potentially divisive issues, providing a more creative way of developing public policy. To view the flyer click here. For a summary of the event click here.

 

Transport for the Canberra community: thinking together about wise moves

Presented by A Chorus of Women in collaboration with the ANU Climate Change Institute
with assistance from an ACT Government Environment Grant
Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre, London Circuit
Monday 26 October 2009, 6-9pm

Our fourth Canberra Conversation sought to unravel the complexities of this topic and stimulate innovative ways forward. Professor Will Steffen (Executive Director, ANU Climate Change Institute) brought a climate change and sustainability perspective to the conversation, particularly in relation to integrated approaches to transport.To view the flyer click here. For a summary of the event click here. For a response to this Canberra Conversation by the ACT Chief Minister click here.

 

Science and the creative arts: a potent collaboration for change?

A National Science Week Event
CSIRO Discovery Theatre
23 August 2009, 2.30-6pm

Our third Canberra Conversation was held as part of the National Science Week 2009. What can the creative arts contribute to public discourse on global environmental change? And why is it particularly important to bring scientists and artists together in working collaborations, rather than have them work in isolation from one another? These questions and others were addressed in this special Science Week Canberra Conversation. Prominent local scientists and artists were invited to contribute and A Chorus of Women provided live artistic contributions, including original music written and directed by Chorus members Glenda Cloughley, Judith Clingan AM and Johanna McBride. The event was facilitated by Dr Janet Salisbury. For further information click here. For a summary of the event click here.

 

Emissions Trading - our way forward to greenhouse gas reductions?

Hosted by A Chorus of Women and the ANU Climate Change Institute
ACT Legislative Assembly
26 May 2009, 6-9 pm

For further information click here.

Our second Canberra Conversation revolved around the current political debate about the emissions trading scheme and other ways in which Australia can find the cuts in greenhouse gases that are required to avert dangerous climate change. How can we reconcile environmental needs with political/economic 'imperatives'? How can we have an open dialogue about this most urgent issue that might lead towards creative solutions?

 

Canberra’s energy future: thinking together about ways forward

Hosted by A Chorus of Women and the ANU Climate Change Institute
ACT Legislative Assembly
26 February 2009, 6-9 pm
70 participants

Our first Canberra Conversation was run in collaboration with the ANU Climate Change Institute and we welcomed Professor Will Steffen, Executive Director of the institute as our co-host for the event. The three-hour conversation combined information exchange with small and whole group discussions, and original songs voicing the social and ethical challenges that these subjects present for our community. Through these elements we hoped to create a non-adversarial environment where we could inform ourselves and other participants on the topic of stationary energy production and use in Canberra and, more importantly, listen carefully to the diversity of views represented in the room. By welcoming diverse opinions and focusing on listening to one another, we sought to imagine shared approaches to tackle the complex issues surrounding energy production and use.

For further information click here. To view the program click here. For a summary of the event click here. Bob Douglas, founder and Chair of SEE-Change and Chair of Australia 21, reviewed the event
.

Longing for Wisdom on our Changing Climate

LFW3

Senior climate scientists said they were moved by our 2008 National Science Week presentation that began with our feeling that the world is crying out for action on climate change and hearing too little response from our leaders.

The presentation included excerpts from The Gifts of the Furies, Glenda Cloughley's radical retelling of The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus. Through beautiful original music this Western lawsong moves from the tragedy of climate change to reconciliation between city-based societies and earth. See the The Gifts of the Furies for more details. Listen to an excerpt of the performance - The Watchman..

The Chorus was joined by Janette Lindesay, Associate Professor of Climatology in the Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU.

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Dr Janette Lindesay

The presentation in the National Convention Centre led into a lively dialogue with audience members facilitated by Chorus member Janet Salisbury.

LFW2

Audience and Chorus join together in singing Ubuntu at the end of the evening

 

On the Edge of Silence

On the Edge of Silence

On the Edge of Silence, CSIRO Discovery Theatre (photo by Nigel McRae)

Through two special presentations for National Science Week in August 2007, A Chorus of Women voiced some emotional and ethical aspects of the climate change crisis. These performances followed the presentation in April of an earlier version of On the Edge of Silence at the Two Fires Festival in Braidwood, which celebrates and continues the lifework of Judith Wright in arts and activism.

This work focussed on the burden environmental scientists hold as they wait for the rest of society to act on knowledge about the dangers of climate change. To read responses from some of the nationally prominent scientists in our audience click here.

In preparing the script, we drew guidance from current climate science and the writings of Australian poet and conservationist Judith Wright. We combined material from these and philosophical sources with our own music, dance, poetry and personal stories.

Each performance was followed by a lively discussion with the audience, facilitated by Chorus member Dr Janet Salisbury, a scientist and science communicator.

We are grateful for support for the performances from the Australian Government through the ACT National Science Week Co-ordinating Committee.

 

Chorus and climate change

As climate change has become a passionate concern of Chorus our composers have written many new songs that we have performed at major public events.

A Chorus of Women brought several walking songs to the Canberra Walk against Warming in November 2007. The songs have had several community airings since then. You can download pdf files of the sheet music below.

The Weather Makers, named after Australian of the Year Tim Flannery's best-selling book, is the first song by scientist Dr. Janet Salisbury. The lyrics of Our Footprints were written around Sue Hoffmann's dining table by several Chorus women. Sue Hoffmann, Zahira-Madeleine Bullock and Johanna McBride each contributed a round.

The Weather Makers sheet music
Our Footprints sheet music
Rounds for the Planet sheet music

New music by Glenda Cloughley, Judy Clingan and Johanna McBride was sung for the first time at the For Love of the World event to an appreciative audience of about 250 people at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture in Canberra in December. Other participants –– all with similar messages about climate change to ours –– were poet–cartoonist Michael Leunig, Bishop George Browning, scientist Dr Mike Rapauch, farmer Alexa Barr, Graham Tupper from the Australian Conservation Foundation, three children and Rev Linda Chapman of the Open Sanctuary@Tilba who initiated the event. Chorus was accompanied by the accomplished violinist Rowan Harvey-Martin and Eleanor Waterford on recorder.

We presented the same music in the ACT Legislative Assembly at the launch of the 'Atmosphere of Hope' art exhibition. This Wildart response to global overheating by South Coast artists was opened by Dr Deb Foskey MLA in May 2007.

Lyrics for the new music –– Dear Earth, Planet We Share and Songs to the Earth –– are in the Songs/Lyrics link on this website. We welcome the use of our music by others, so if you would like sheet music, please contact us.

Spring Sing 2007!

More than 150 Canberrans sang for peace in a citizen's chorus in the centre of the city on International Day of Peace, 21 September 2007.

Harmony was the theme and outcome of this happy event, initiated by A Chorus of Women to raise money for several UNIFEM Peace Scholars from Afghanistan to study in Australia.

Seven other choral groups joined us:

Llewellyn Choir
Out of the Shower and On With the Show
Wayfarers, with singers from Womensing and The Carers' Choir
Union Voices
SCUNA
Canberra Gay And Lesbian Qwire
Canberra Youth Choir

We sang for each other and together, and brought joyous songs to Friday night shoppers in the Canberra Centre, which provided generous support for the event.

The Spring Sing! concluded with community singing and brief, moving speeches from Stella Wilkie, Canberra Quakers; Sue Conde, Vice-President, UNIFEM Australia; and Ellen Hansen, UNHCR who read the International Peace Day message from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

If you would like to download the sheet music or listen to sound files please click below.

Lament sheet music Listen
Call to Peace sheet music Listen
A Recipe for Peace sheet music listen
Peace Round sheet music  
Sing as We Travel sheet music  
Ubuntu sheet music Listen
 

International Women's Day contributions

Chorus sang three rousing songs for peace to 900 guests at the 2008 UNIFEM IDW lunch.

At the 2007UNIFEM lunch Chorus performed 'Love Has a Voice', the new song dedicated to the young Afghan parliamentarian Malalai Joya by Glenda Cloughley. Malalai and many of the 850 guests were visibly moved at our tribute to the brave work being carried out towards human rights in Afghanistan. 'Love Has a Voice' was also our fourth anniversary song and included 'Lament', with which our Chorus began in March 2003. The lyrics can be found on our Songs page. Click here to hear a recording.

Chorus also presented a program of five original songs at the 2007 ACT International Women's Day Awards in the Legislative Assembly.

'Giving Voice' – the first CD of A Chorus of WomenA Chorus of Women - Giving Voice

'Giving Voice' is a compilation of 15 songs reflecting the concerns and creativity of A Chorus of Women. The songs and the accompanying booklet form a story of the activities of the Chorus over nearly four years.

 

The CD was launched by ACT Senator Kate Lundy at the ACT Legislative Assembly on Monday 11 December 2006. Chorus sang a selection of songs from the CD and Kate Lundy gave a very moving speech about the role A Chorus of Women had played in voicing the concerns of citizens, including politicians.

If you want to order a copy of 'Giving Voice' please contact us.

Copyright © 2019 A Chorus of Women