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. Glenda Cloughley wrote new lyrics with the title 'Song of Life'. Johanna McBride arranged the music for choir, soloists and instruments.
We gathered more than a hundred voices for our citizens' chorus. and rehearsed in secret. We also invited musician friends - among them soloists Tobias Cole and Tim Hollo, and instrumentalists Lucus Allerton, Max McBride and Gillian Pereira. Rehearsals were a well-kept secret in Canberra. On the day the 5000 strong crowd joined in enthusiastically.
'A Passion for Peace' is a community oratorio, written by Glenda Cloughley for Canberra's famous A Chorus of Women. The Passion was inspired by the 1915 International Congress of Women in The Hague, where some 1300 women from 12 warring and neutral countries set the 20th century’s human rights agenda at the only international peace conference of World War I.
This live recording of Resolution One - the first of 20 influential congress resolutions - was recorded during the Passion’s world premiere season 28 April - 1 May 2015. The season coincided with the centennial congress of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in The Hague. Canberra soprano Louise Page sings the role of Jane Addams, Congress President and later Nobel Peace Laureate. Musical direction by Johanna McBride.
In 2018 and 2019, for the centenary of the Armistice and for the centenary of the Treaty of Versailles, we presented a reworked version entitled The People's Passion. See our Highlights page for more information.
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. The song was written by Meg Rigby for the opening of the Canberra International Peace Bell.
Many of the singers who had taken part in the work-in-progress performance of A Passion for Peace came together at the Belconnen Arts Centre to record 'We Women', a centenary fanfare Glenda Cloughley had written and which we presented as a gift to WILPF (the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom). The Belconnen Arts Centre generously made available the beautiful foyer space free of charge, in exchange for a public concert which we held on 29 March 2015 (see above). The video was screened at the centenary Congress of WILPF in The Hague on 28 April 2015.
This song was written by Johanna McBride for the "Break the Silence' Palm Sunday rally for refugees on 13 April 2014.
It is a short history of Australia's treatment of refugees and a reminder that all of us non-indigenous Australians are boat people.
This song was written by Glenda Cloughley during the war between Israel and Hezbollah in August 2006 for two ‘Sharing Grief — Breaking Bread’ events in Civic, which were hosted by A Chorus of Women and Women in Black. These simple ceremonies enabled people to express their grief and their longing for non-adversarial approaches to conflict resolution and reconciliation. The song includes traditional Middle Eastern blessings and is inspired by rituals of sharing bread, which are common to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
This recording is from our 'Singing Regeneration' concert 26 November 2016.
Lament has become an anthem for peace since 150 women sang it in the marble foyer of the Australian Parliament as Australia joined the invasion of Iraq. The women had never sung as a group before. Many did not know Glenda or Judy, who had written the song only four days earlier. But through the networks of Canberra’s singing women the music had reached each one and touched a cord of empathy for Iraqi families. The song was heard by millions of Australians in national news broadcasts. It didn’t stop the war, but it expressed what many people felt. It also changed the lives of some of the singers, for it was through the bond of shared sorrow and love in this unprecedented action that A Chorus of Women was formed.Performance at the War Memorial February 2004:
Every year during Canberra’s famous Anzac Eve Peace Vigil the Chorus women sing Glenda Cloughley's Spirit Songs at the top of Mt Ainslie before the beautiful silent lantern-lit procession down the bush path. The song includes the laments of two mothers. Glenda sings for two of her great grandmothers whose 21-year-old sons were killed in the First World War. The tune of the Indigenous mother was written and sung in this recording by Noongar woman Judith Kelly.
Glenda Cloughley sings the lament of the other spirit mother. Meriel Owen plays harp and Nitya Bernard Parker plays flute