Reception in support of Voices of Birralee
Councillors Matic and Toomey; Voices of Birralee Founder and Artistic Director, Ms Julie Christiansen; ladies and gentlemen; girls and boys.
Thank you for coming this afternoon – with the challenge of rain and wind. I saw some of your heroic arrivals from my Study window.
And I must say how impressed I was also, by the wonderful assistance given to you by our superb Government House staff, who never cease to amaze, and who have Kaye’s and my unfailing gratitude.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to your Government House for this reception in support of Voices of Birralee – in theory you haven’t had to come far – from Bardon!
Voices of Birralee is an exemplary Queensland cultural organisation, encouraging a love and appreciation of music in some of our youngest and younger citizens.
Through a busy program each year, it provides many wonderful opportunities for young people to express their creativity, to meet other chorally talented people, and to perform to a wide array of people.
In recent years, Voices of Birralee has provided choral contributions at Centenary of ANZAC commemoration services in Queensland and overseas, including the Poppies and Poems concert here in Brisbane, and at the Western Front in France and Belgium.
Last year, Kaye and I attended one such service in Villers-Bretonneux, France – in earlier years, at Fromelles and Pozieres: our Voices of Birralee performing at all.
A visit to a battlefield is a sombre occasion in which one is prompted to reflect on history and remember those who were present at such places during times of conflict.
For students of history, there are many facets to war – the causes and timelines, strategies and tactics, particular battles and turning points, the social implications and aftermath.
Perhaps an element sometimes overlooked is the role of music.
From bagpipers signalling tactical movements, to drummers keeping troops marching in time together, and those on the frontlines who sang to boost morale and provide a moment to reflect during ceasefires, music has also been a part of conflict.
At the Centenary of Armistice ceremony in Villers-Bretonneux last year, we were filled with great pride upon hearing the members of Voices of Birralee.
It is always a moving experience to hear choral works, and this was perhaps heightened by the occasion and location of hearing such music.
It was also a poignant reminder that many of the young men who lost their lives on that same battlefield a century ago were not much older than some of the young people who were singing in the choir there that day.
To all in Voices of Birralee who have helped us remember and commemorate these highly significant milestones through music, thank you most sincerely.
You are tremendous international ambassadors, not only for your choir and for the State of Queensland, but for all of Australia.
I look forward to hearing of your creating new traditions through music in years to come.