Friday, 24 March 2017

Pacific Requiem

During the performance.
I'm in the middle row with the altos but partially obscured.
The Darwin Chorale performed Pacific Requiem last weekend as part of The Territory Remembers commemorations. It was quite challenging to learn and perform well, but the result was worth every second of all those rehearsals.

It is 75 years since war came to Australia and the Northern Territory was bombed. The Pacific Requiem, by Michael MacNeill, is a work of reconciliation. This means it is one way we can all come to feel that the war is long over and that participants should be forgiven. Those who fired the weapons were just ordinary people doing what they were told was right. They have friends and family who mourn their loss too. This requiem is for all.
MacNeill's requiem contains pieces in Latin, English, and Japanese. It is based on the traditional requiem service of the Christian church, in Latin, but supplemented with folk songs from Australia, USA, and Japan. A children's choir sings some sections.
Our performance was in the Uniting Church in Darwin. This church is itself a war memorial. We were lucky enough to have the composer present at the final rehearsal and at the performance.

Afterwards, Michael MacNeill addressed the audience.
The church was decorated with cherry blossoms, red roses, and wattle flowers. All the singers and musicians wore sprigs of those flowers too.

The following morning we sang at a church service to bless the new Peace Garden at the same church. The Fujita family sponsored that event. It was so moving that tears poured down my cheeks.

Who is Michael MacNeill? He is an Australian now, but he was born in the USA. His father had served in World War II in the Pacific as an American Marine. Michael MacNeill taught English and Drama in schools, and also developed a sound reputation for composing musicals and operas. He is no musical lightweight.