Remembering Glenda

Stories and tributes in memory of Glenda Cloughley


 


This page has tributes to Glenda received since her death on 21 September 2023  plus stories and memories from her life and her many projects with A Chorus of Women.  If you have a tribute or memory you would like us to include here, contact:  chorusofwomen@incanberra.com.au

Many other stories of Glenda's music and writing can be found on this website.


Vale Glenda Cloughley

January 1952 - September 2023

With heavy hearts we share the news that our beloved friend Glenda Cloughley died peacefully at home on 21 September, with her family by her side. She had been journeying with a quite aggressive cancer since late 2022.

Glenda died just a few hours after other Chorus members had been singing at the Canberra Peace Bell as we do each year on the International Day of Peace. Also, it was 6 months to the day after we sang in Parliament House in March for the 20th anniversary of the birth of Chorus.

Glenda initiated the singing of a Lament for the people of Iraq which led to the formation of A Chorus of Women in March 2003. Since then she has written much of our music including two major works – The Gifts of the Furies and A Passion for Peace/The People’s Passion.

As a Jungian analyst, cultural psychologist and singer-composer, Glenda has brought a unique creative and prophetic spirit to the peace, justice and environmental movements in Canberra and beyond. Her passing leaves a deep sense of loss. 
 

'Remembering Glenda'

A public celebration of Glenda's life was held in Canberra on Wed 13 December 2023.

Click here to download the program.

You can watch a recording of the event here

 

Obituaries 


Canberrans remember a prophetic and creative voice for change 
- Canberra Times, Sunday 3 Dec, 2023

Remembering Glenda Cloughley, 1952-2023, Engage, The Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, December 2023, Issue 14.

Southland Times, New Zealand
 

Tributes

Read the many tributes, condolences and memories of Glenda that have been received.

You can add a tribute here:  Vale Glenda Cloughley

This moving tribute was received from Katy Gallagher, Senator for the ACT (and former ACT Chief Minister):

"I am so very sorry to hear about the passing of your dear friend, Glenda. Please pass on my condolences to Glenda’s family and friends during this difficult time.

"I had the pleasure of meeting Glenda some years ago when she organised a ceremony of stories and songs to celebrate the spirit of the Canberra community. The memory of so many Canberrans gathered in Civic Square being moved by Glenda’s words of love and peace sung by A Chorus of Women is one that has stuck with me over the last decade.

"Not only does it take a great deal of time and dedication to organise an event like this, but it also takes a special kind of person to create the sense of purpose and togetherness that was felt by all who joined Glenda and A Chorus of Women in this celebration. Every single ceremony, vigil, and performance that Glenda conducted since 2003 truly is a testament to just how remarkable she was.

" I am sure that her contributions to both the Canberra and wider Australian community will be remembered for generations to come as shining examples of passion, talent, commitment, and bravery.

"I’d like to pass on my best wishes to you and the Chorus as you celebrate Glenda’s life and work at a memorial December. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend, but please know that you and Glenda’s loved ones will be in my thoughts."
Katy Gallagher, Senator for the ACT


This is from members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom:
"At its meeting on 7 October, the WILPF Australia Board paused to reflect on Glenda's remarkable life, and asked that I extend our love and condolences to her family and loved ones - near & far.

We especially remember Glenda, a WILPF member and co-founder of  A Chorus of Women for her  courage and indefatigable inspiration. Two particular memories come to mind - in 2003, the singing of the Lament for the people of Iraq as the government committed our nation to join the US-led invasion of Iraq. And in 2015, Glenda's A Passion for Peace, notwithstanding poor connections, premiered simultaneously at WILPF’s Women’s Power to Stop War Centenary in The Hague. Glenda's passion and spirit resonated with, and up lifted over 1000 women that night.

Vale Glenda -  may you rest free of pain knowing that you have left this world with joyous music and a model for  peace that will last across the ages."  

Lyn Lane, Secretary, WILPF Australia Board

Here are 2 poems that have been written by friends:
A poem from Sarah Stitt
A poem from a friend

Farewell to the Yurt 

On mid-February 2023, knowing that her health was declining, Glenda closed her practice as a Jungian analyst and psychotherapist, which she ran from the beautiful Yurt in her back garden.
Read Glenda’s account of the ceremony she conducted to close her practice.

 

The Change Agency and the Temenos group

Marguerite Castello, a great friend of Glenda and her husband Tony Pratt, has written about the heady days of the 1980s and 90s when Glenda and Tony ran The Change Agency and a group of friends coalesced around production of a journal, Temenos, an Australian Jungian and Cultural Review. Read Marguerite's account of those times.
 

Lament is the start of ... A Chorus of Women 

In 2003, after joining 1os of 1000s of Australians at protest marches about the US-led war in Iraq, Glenda wrote the words for a song of lament for the people of Iraq and asked her friend, the Canberra composer and singer, Judith Clingan, to write a tune. They then invited Canberra women to join them secretly in the Parliament House  Marble Foyer on 18 March 2003 - the day that then prime minister John Howard announced in parliament that Australia was going to join the war in Iraq. 150 women joined them in singing 'Lament' that day. 

Original copy of Lament music

The women singing was featured on the ABC 7.30 Report that evening and Fran Kelly referred to the women as 'A Chorus of Women' (see this story on the Home page),  This started Glenda thinking about the Chorus (often women) in ancient Greek theatre, who commented on the action and what would happen. That night she wrote this letter to the women who had joined the singing. 

Glenda's letter from 19 March 2003

Many of the women responded and joined 'A Chorus of Women' - and the rest, they say, is history!

For the past 20 years. Chorus women have met weekly on Thursday evenings for philosophical conversations that respond to current affairs - seeking what response the Chorus might make.

In March 2023, to mark the 20th anniversary of that momentous day in 2003 that saw the start of A Chorus of Women. Glenda wrote new verses for the Lament - and Judy added new music - with  an invitation from the women:
'Would you give your voice to the song of life?
Would you give your promise to children and Earth?
Will you sing for peace, through the power of love?
So lament will turn to renewal.'

And the answer comes back from all the citizens - women and men:
'We give our voice to the song of life
We give our promise to children and Earth
We sing for peace, through the power of love
So lament will turn to renewal.'

Video of A Chorus of Women and friends (a 'People's Chorus') singing this 2023 version of 'Lament' at Parliament House in March 2023.

Ethos Speaks

In 2005, when A Chorus of Women were preparing to sing at the 90th anniversary of WILPF (the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom) Glenda asked her friend, the sculptor tom Bass (then 89) , whether his sculpture, Ethos - Canberra's first public artwork - had anything to say to the people of Canberra. Soon after, Tom told Glenda that Ethos had spoken to him in a dream. Glenda set the words to music, and after meetings with the then chief minister Jon Stanhope a paving with the words carved by Tom was set into the walkway next to the statue.


 I am the spirit of this place
I am the spirit of its people
I am the original spirit
I am the spirit of now

I rise from the Earth
And I reach for the sun
I bring together
the old and the new


In me there is no violence no war
In me, there is only peace and reconciliation

In this place, I am the love and peace
I am the beauty of this place
I am the spirit of Canberra
I am Ethos in the people
                     

 

              The Chorus women around Ethos

In 2013, for the centenary of Canberra, A Chorus of Women produced a CD with three versions of  I Am Ethos. 

The original version Glenda had written in 2005. We had sung it to Tom Bass, as a surprise gift, at the National Library on 28 August 2008, for an event marking the 40th anniversary of the installation of his lintel sculpture above the entrance of the Library. 

Click on the CD Label to listen to 
three versions of I am Ethos:
1.  I Am Ethos  - a capella, original version by Glenda Cloughley

I Am Ethos - jazz/rock version, arranged by Jenny Sawer

3 I Am Ethos - community anthem, arranged by Glenda as a centenary gift to Canberra


In 2008, Chorus were invited to sing at the National Library at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the lintel scupture  over the main entrance, also by Tom Bass. 

Listen to Glenda introducing the song, Chorus singing and Tom'Bass's reply at the end of our singing.  
 

The Singing Hill

Glenda spoke often of her great friend and mentor, the artist and archeologist Dorothy Cameron (1917-2002).

Among many stories from Dorothy, Glenda heard the story of a group of women who met at the fountain in the Members Hall of Parliament House in the early 1990s to support the then young WA senator Jo Vallentine - one of very few women in the House at the time - initially an independent and later the first Greens senator. 

The women would hum, meditate and recipe poems . Dorothy was one of the women in this group and she imagined she could hear humming of First Nations women ancestors beneath the ground of Parliament House. One night, returning from a gathering at Parliament House, she wrote her poem 'The Singing Hill'. 

We know now from First Nations women that Capital Hill (formerly known as Kurragong Hill) was indeed a women's place in their local culture (indeed some women have told us that the whole corridor from Parliament House to Mt Ainslie was a women's place).

After the 2021, March 4 Justice, Glenda started to write some music for the poem. Then, Janet Salisbury invited Chorus to present 'The Singing Hill'  to open the Women’s Climate Congress 1-day online National Congress of Women event in November 2021. Glenda worked with Johanna McBride, sound engineer Danny Pratt and visual artist Sally Blake to make a video of the story of the poem. Jo Vallentine agreed to read the poem for the recording. 

Read the full story and watch the video here
Read the poem here

  

Atop Mt Ainslie - Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve

Another story that captures Glenda's ability to deeply connect with what is happening underneath the surface and our common humanity, is her composition of 'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve'.

In 2011, Chorus women were part of a group of Canberra peace advocates planning a peace vigil to be held at sunset on Mt Ainslie on Anzac Eve (24 April). The brainchild of peace activist and event designer, Graeme Dunstan, the idea was to reimagine the military Anzac narrative, which was by then building towards a very large planned cemmoration of the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in 2015, to remember all victims of all wars, including the Frontier Wars, and to dedicate oursleves to peace.  Graeme envisaged a lantern-lit ceremony at the top of Mt Ainslie and a walk down the mountain with lanterns - as a symbolic 'descent into the darkness of lament'.

Chorus was preparing music for the event and Glenda spent some time sitting on Mt Ainslie - which we are told is a woman's place in local Fist Nations culture. She thought she could hear in the wind, mothers cyring for their lost children.  She thought of her New Zealand great grandmother Margery Cloughley who had lost a son in WW1, and she started to write her story into a song for the Anzac Eve event.

At the same time, Chorus met Judith Kelly - a Stolen Generation First Nations woman who was at the time staying at the Tent Embassy as an elder in residence. Glenda spent some time talking with Judith at the Tent Embassy about lament and the song she was writing. She encouraged Judith to write down her lament for her lost ancestors as another verse for the song.

The song 'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve' was first sung at the top of Mt Ainslie for the inaurgural Anzac Eve Peace Vigil in 2011 - with Glenda and Judith Kelly singing thier 'spirit mother' verses, lamenting  their lost children.  Chorus member, Janet Salisbury has spoken often of how profoudly affected she was to hear these two women (a white settler woman and a Stolen Generation First Nations woman) singing together in the firelight and lantern light just after a glorious sunset on Mt Ainslie.  The spirits of the ancestors were very tangible that night.

Watch a video incoporating with beautiful studio recording of  'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve'. 

Since 2010, the Anzac Eve Peace Vigil has become an annual event in Canberra - and for the past 3 years has been listed as part of the ACT Heritage Festival.
Read more here
 

The 'Big Stories'

Glenda understood more than most, the value of  good teaching stories and she brought this awareness to her two maj0r choral works for A Chorus of Women.

The Gifts of the Furies - first performed in full in 2009 at the ANU Great Hall - explores the mythic scale of  human responsibility for climate change through the lens of the Greek tragedy of the Oresteia by Aeschylus   - in particular the third play in the trilogy, The Eumenides.  Glenda recognised the timeless significance of the underlying message in this story for humans today - that when we put human laws above the laws of nature, Mother Earth (Gaia) will retaliate with 'fury' (wild weather) but if we learn to revere the laws of nature, Gaia will show her kindly face  (a stable climate with seasonal abundance). 

Read about this 'big work' here:
The Gifts of the Furies 

A Passion for Peace (later renamed The People's Passion) draws on the story of the 1915 International Congress of Women - the only peace confernece of WW1 when some 1500 women from warring and neutral countries came together at the Hague over 3 days in late April 1915 and created a set of resolutions to end the war and establish the conditions for sustainable peace. 

Glenda could see past the surface story, inspiring as that is, to an underlying case study for the 'wellsprings'  of human compassion and kindness at work  turning lament for the terrible sufferings of the war to renewal in the insightful recommendations for a better future.  See more about this 'big work' here:
Festival for Peace 2015
The People's Passion 2018, 2019

Read Glenda's account of writing the Passion:
When Hope and History Rhyme: History Becomes A Passion for Peace, by Glenda Cloughley, Peace Works! 

And her Jung Society presentation:
Regenerating Politics with Glenda Cloughley, 2016

The Wellsprings 

Glenda composed the first version of her song 'The Wellsprings'  for a preformance of 'The People's Passion'  in June 2019 to cioncide with the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles and the 1919 International Congress of Women which was held in Zurich at the same time as the Treaty negotiations were happening in Paris.

At that time she as inpired by a verse from the Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) by Lao Tzu,
The Spirit of the Valley never dies.
It is the root of all Heaven and Earth,
The mother of the 10,000 things.
Going far away, it returns.
Frail, frail it is,
Hardly existing.
But touch it. It will never run dry.

She was also inspired by words from Eleanor Moore - one of the three Australian women who attended the 1919 International Congress of Women. She incoporated these works into the 2019 version of The People's Passion as follows:

NARRATOR: We listen to Eleanor Moore’s speech to the 1919 International Congress of Women in Zurich, and we hear the longing of billions of us around the world today. .   

ELEANOR MOORE (speaking): This world of ours has been to most of us during these last years a wilderness in which almost every spring of kindness and humane wisdom has been dry. … Suppose the forces for reviving and saving the world are running all the while deep in our own human nature, hidden, unrecognised, sometimes deliberately choked and wasted. … I believe there is flowing in the hearts of people everywhere undirected currents of kindness and the wish to help. I believe the public influence of the best women of all countries is one of these underground streams.'

Feeling that this song encapsulated her most significant work to give voice to the 'songs of life' and 'turn lament to renewal', Glenda continuned to refine the song up until the very end and it was the last song she worked on in her final few months. 

Read the lyrics here