This Remembrance Day, to mark the centenary of the WW1 Armistice on 11 November 1918, A Chorus of Women and friends are planning to tell an inspirational story for Peace on Earth Now:
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The People’s Passion
Meet the women who dared to change the world
The People’s Passion, a musical retelling of the story of a global web of thousands of daring women from warring and neutral nations who met with the goal to end WW1 and enable permanent peace.
Over a century ago 1300 women travelled from around the world under difficult and dangerous circumstances to gather at The Hague at the end of April 1915 for the only international peace congress of WW1 with farsighted and far reaching impact.
At the Congress they founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and passed resolutions prescient of 20th century advances in international relations and human rights, as well as the world’s first plan for continuous mediation by neutral nations to end the conflict.
After the Congress their envoys met with more world leaders than anyone else saw in the course of the war and when they held a second congress in Zurich while the Terms of Peace were being negotiated, their resolutions became a basis for the League of Nations Charter.
Vida Goldstein, and other Australian suffragist and pacifist women, who were unable to attend due to the distance and short notice, haunted the newspaper offices waiting for cables about the congress, which Vida published in her Women’s Voter newspaper. In June 1919, Vida was able to travel with two other Australian pacifist women for the second congress.
These women changed the world and are still changing the world through the ongoing effects of their actions. In some ways, the #MeToo revolution continues what was begun with the Second 1915 Resolution — ‘Women’s Sufferings in War', which led eventually to rape being declared a war crime. While two of their leaders won Nobel Peace Prizes, their actions are absent from military histories. But The People’s Passion sings the remarkable achievements of the women forwards to inspire people’s movements today.
A Chorus of Women will be joined by some of our city’s finest musicians to perform The People’s Passion. We are thrilled that internationally renowned soprano Louise Page OAM will sing the role of Jane Addams, Nobel Peace Laureate and President of the 1915 and 1919 International Congresses of Women, in one of the final Canberra performances of her retirement year.
Other cast members include 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 Martje 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.
The cast also includes 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 and Lucus Allerton on the piano.
The production, which will include a narrative spoken by Miriam Pickard and visual images about the historical and philosophical background of the piece, is a reworking of the highly successful 2015 choral drama A Passion for Peace performed during the centenary of the 1915 International Congress of Women as part of our five-day Festival for Peace.
You might like to note that we will repeat the 11 November performance on Friday 28 June 2019, the centenary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
‘Regeneration’ is A Chorus of Women's main theme.
Our end-of-year concert in November 2016 ('Singing Regeneration') combined music and spoken reflections on the laws of regeneration, regenerating humanity, and regenerating the Earth.
In the current political climate, working towards political and cultural regeneration is more important than ever and we have been thinking about ways that Chorus can give voice more publicly to the underlying theme of regeneration that has been in the background of much of our previous work.
Please contact us if you are interested.
In 2017, we launched a new series of conversations, called ‘wisdom conversations’ to bring together people with different cultural, disciplinary and generational perspectives. We are seeking a broader, more open and deeper experience than is usually possible in public forums, or when people stay in siloes – whether they be sciences, the arts, social services, business, government, or religious, cultural and other perspectives.
Where can the green songs grow? Sharing perspectives on regeneration for our broken world17 October 2017
Our first 1-day conversation was held in October 2017 and was cohosted by A Chorus of Women and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, with 22 participants to share ideas about the great urgent ethical questions of our time. We explored the question of how civil society can ‘grow’ the sort of caring, regenerative wisdom that we know so well in our family lives but which is elusive among the noise and competing interests of politics, economics, business and organisational posturing that disastrously dominate too much day-to-day decision making.
Read our report of the October 2017 conversation.
Where can the green songs grow? Sharing ideas and dreams for our Chorus voice now18 March 2018
To mark the 15th anniversary of the formation of A Chorus of Women on 18 March 2003, we held a wisdom conversation for women who had been part of the Chorus journey. Continuing the theme of ‘Where can the green songs grow?’, we explored how our Chorus voice can contribute to the transformational changes we long for.
Early in 2017, we were approached by Michael Rabey of Canberra Rotary Club to participate in the official launch of the Canberra World Peace Bell in Nara Peace Park. This launch represented several years of work by Michael and Canberra Rotary to being a World Peace Bell to Canberra (at that time the 23rd such bell to be installed in the world and the 2nd in Australia).
Our Meg Rigby wrote a new song for this special occasion on 23 February, 10.30 - 12 noon.
Meg describes the song as a kind of mediation on peace, with a repeating chant-like refrain alternating with soaring cries for peace based on wording from the annual Peace Declarations, which have been read by the Mayor of Hiroshima each August since 1947.
Here are the words of the refrain:
Sound the bell for peace
Feel its pulse within
We sing peace with every breath
Different cries can be written/sung for different occasions. Here are the cries that we sang for the launch of the Canberra bell:
Hear the cry from Hiroshima
Let their suffering not be in vain
Let us cut the chains of fear and hate
May our love break the spell of war
Build true peace for our children’s sake
Unite the world in a call for peace
Hear the call here in Canberra
We greet this bell as a song of hope
More background about this project is on the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell website. A history of the origins of the bells is on the World Peace Bell Association website, and a history of the Hiroshima Peace Declarations is the City of Hiroshima website.
Here is a YouTube Video of our singing of the Peace Bell Song at the Hiroshima Day Ceremony held at the Canberra Peace Bell on 6 August 2018:
In 2016, we raised over $6000 for the Climate Council at our event Mission Climate!, which brought together Chorus and other musical artists with climate scientists and others to weave together music and personal reflections on our relationship with the Earth.
The scientists are now telling us that humanity’s mission to prevent disastrous global warming is becoming ‘mission critical’ and we are planning another, bigger, Mission Climate event for 2019.
We would love to hear ideas from any musical folk around Canberra who would like to be involved and make this an event that truly expresses citizen concerns and frustrations, and which cannot be ignored.
In the meantime, see ‘Give us this day’ — a moving musical expression of the beauty of our world that we are losing, with lyrics by UK poet Tony Vincent Isaacs and music by Ward Swingle.Also see ‘Wish’, a new original ballad performed by Canberra’s own Tim Hollo and his quartet FourPlay.
On Anzac Day ABC presenter and Muslim activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied tweeted 'Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)'. She was widely attacked and accused of being 'disrespectful'.
Just in time for the 2016 Australian Election — A Chorus of Women calls for the kind of politicians citizens crave!
Funny thing is Glenda Cloughley wrote the song four federal elections ago. The occasion then was a Chorus gig to encourage good women to stand for political office.
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