The Melbourne Welsh Male Choir will mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice with “Till They All Come Home”, a concert expected to pack out Melbourne Town Hall on Sunday, November 11.
The choir hopes that veterans and their families (and others) will make a day of it and come to the concert after Remembrance Day commemorations. RSL members are eligible for a concession price ticket.
The 65-strong choir will be joined by “Australia’s leading lady of musical theatre”, Marina Prior, and Mike Brady.
Till They All Come Home is the brain-child of Mike Lyons, who at 86, is one of the choir’s oldest members. Mr Lyons was born a Londoner, and lived through the Blitz and the Battle of Britain.
“Till They All Come Home celebrates the music of both World War I and World War II,” Mr Lyons said.
“World War I led inexorably to World War II and, despite the passage of time, both wars continue to resonate globally. Both continue to have dramatic and lasting effects on Australia. So much horror, so much death, so many lives otherwise destroyed. Through all of this, music both comforted and inspired. Some songs were not much more than propaganda and were destined to disappear before or soon after the cessation of hostilities. Others became big hits and have endured.”
Growing up during the London Blitz, Mr Lyons became aware of the power of music through his father, who served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in World War I, and was part of a musical concert troupe entertaining servicemen and women in World War II.
“Music helped us to both survive and appreciate life, whatever the circumstances. There was no television so music, especially live music, was prized. Our family was twice bombed out of home by the Luftwaffe but we could put brave faces to the world thanks to songs such as Vera Lynn’s White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again.”
Marina Prior will perform a Vera Lynn medley with the choir as well as We’ll Gather Lilacs, Sally Pride of our Alley, Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye) and the Edith Piaf standard, La Vie en Rose. Ms Prior’s grandfather was a World War I ANZAC, as were all his brothers. He was shot three times and sent back to the front three times. He was only 19. She has all his records.
Mr Lyons said Melbourne Town Hall was the right place for the concert as it was a major recruitment centre during World War I and the Victorian centre for the Australian Comforts Fund (originally the Lady Mayoress’s Patriotic League).
The Melbourne Welsh Male Choir, which formed in 1984, is the youngest of the three Welsh male choirs in Victoria. Currently, it has around 65 members, ranging in age from the mid-40s to 88.
Part of the proceeds will be donated to RSL Victoria, who look after the service veterans of all conflicts and the LEGACY organisation, which cares for the widows and families of those left behind.
3pm, Sunday, November 11
Melbourne Town Hall, 90 Swanston Street, Melbourne (accessible)
Tickets: $50/$45 (concession; RSL members)
9800 3889; 0421 391 253 or book through www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=412514&