SSO and NZSO to mark Anzac Centenary

The Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings with two simultaneous world premieres.

Perth-based composer James Ledger (pictured) has been commissioned to write War Music for the SSO, whilst New Zealand composer Michael Williams will write a piece called Letters from the Front for the NZSO. The ensembles will perform with the Gondwana Chorale and New Zealand Youth Choir respectively.

Both orchestras will perform the new works at the same time on 22 April 2015, ahead of Anzac Day on 25 April.

SSO’s managing director, Rory Jeffes, said: ‘Anzac Day is such an important day of remembrance for all Australians and is part of our collective identity. We are honoured to be paying our respects to those who fought in Gallipoli in this trans-Tasman collaboration with our neighbours at the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.’

War Music will take place in two parts, the first being purely orchestral, and the second featuring the words of musician and storyteller Paul Kelly, performed by orchestra and choir. ‘The idea is the whole piece will form an arch,’ Ledger said. ‘The first half is going to be war-like. It’s going to be very violent and aggressive. The second half will reflect back on the travesty of war.’

Meanwhile, Williams’ Letters from the Front will take inspiration from the letters sent by the composer’s great-grandfather to his family back home.