The Movements & Composers

Gelibolu – Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Turkey

This piece, featuring traditional Turkish instruments, is a lament for the past as the singer contemplates the ravages of war.  He sings of blood in the soil, speaking from a modern Turkish perspective about the tragic events of one hundred years ago.

The composition blends seamlessly with both didgeridoo and Maori instruments, while maintaining a traditional Turkish effect.

He Poroporaoki (Farewell) – Garth Farr and Richard Nunns, New Zealand

On 16 October 1914, the largest body of men (and horses) to ever leave New Zealand departed from Wellington to join the war in Europe.  Many of the soldiers were the sons of those who came to New Zealand from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. For the Maori soldiers it was a journey to places many have never heard of - a journey from a place that had always been home. On that day, thousands of New Zealanders - parents, children, relatives and friends - lined the wharves to bid farewell, singing Now is the Hour / Po Atarau, as the ships steamed away, while fervently wishing the troops to return home safely.  This composition captures the moment these troops departed to their fates.

The Voyage – Graeme Koehne AO, Australia

At the outbreak of war, Australians rushed to join up in their thousands for what they hoped would be the adventure of a lifetime. The Australian and New Zealand troops would come together in Albany Harbour at the end of 1914 to form two enormous convoys, the largest to depart from Australia during the Great War.

The voyage was long, exciting, and shared with men who would become staunch friends – mates. Many would never return home.  The music captures the slow roll of the troopships as they sail across the Indian Ocean.  Their ultimate destination was kept from the troops; they thought it might be France.  Few anticipated that they would instead be called upon to invade Turkey, a country of which most of the young Australians and New Zealanders knew very little.

Thoughts of Home – Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE, Australia

The movement was influenced by the first piece of music the composer vividly remembered, The Last Post, and utilises the one instrument that many of the troops were able to carry with them – a simple mouth organ.  It provokes feelings of melancholy, echoing the feelings of many of those soldiers as their thoughts turned back to home.

Sadly Peter Sculthorpe passed away in 2014. His composition contemplates the hours and minutes before the Anzacs left the ships and boarded the small craft as silently as possible for the shores of Gallipoli.  These troops knew that for many it may be their final hours.  What thoughts went through their minds?  Was it a moment of fear?  Or was it simply a new stage of their adventure, the culmination of their training.  Did they worry about defeat, about letting their mates down, about what may await them on the dark shoreline ahead?  During these hours of waiting, inevitably thoughts turned to loved ones, to home.

The Landing – Elena Kats-Chernin, Australia

An unusually slow and steady accelerando takes the listener on the long voyage of the Anzacs in their rowboats as they are first towed, and then as they row into the shore. The speed of their heartbeats steadily increases as they approach the beach, where they would come under fire as they raced forward through the shallows, across the beach and into the low scrub.

The sea was as smooth as glass; the moon had sunk below the Aegean; there was a hint of a new dawn.  It was the setting for one of largest amphibious landings in military history.  But the attack in the dim light would not take the Turks by surprise.  As the small craft approached the pebbled beaches they came under fire.  The cliffs and gullies that had appeared daunting from the boats were even more so when the men landed.  Most made it to shore. Those that did not stained the pristine water with their blood.  A vicious campaign had begun which would last for eight months.  Turkey was being invaded and it was fighting back. On all sides, the sacrifice in those first hours was horrendous.

The Invasion – Kamran Ince, Turkey

This works speaks of the allied invasion from the Turkish perspective and features a melody played on the ney, an instrument often played alongside the troops as they marched across the countryside towards the battlefields. The tune, peaceful at first, undergoes a series of transformations as the psychological torment and stresses of battle increase, to a point where one is utterly overcome by the overwhelming noise of war. The piece ends with a depiction of the counterattack on 19 May, 1915, when Turkey lost thousands of troops in a single day, in a desperate attempt to drive the Anzacs from their positions.

The Turkish armies fought bravely and with great determination to save their beloved country from invading forces as they have done over several centuries. Here in a place of ancient civilisations and the ruins of Troy, seldom have so many countries of the world, races and nations, sent their young men to so small a place, with the intention of killing one another. Almost the entire area of battlefields could be seen from the heights.  It was a series of battles, trench to trench, hill to hill, gully to gully, man to man.  It was noisy, frightening, deadly, and like all war, immensely sad.

God Pity Us Poor Soldiers – Ross Harris, New Zealand

This piece for strings depicts the 24 May, 1915, ceasefire when soldiers of both sides gathered to bury their dead.  From this moment on both sides of the campaign experienced mutual affinity born of shared discomforts and intertwined destinies.

From the first day of the landing to the final evacuation the list of casualties grew. They fought and died on the hottest of days and froze on the coldest.  As they buried the dead during the ceasefire, the troops of both sides looked at one another and wondered about their fate. Would any of them ever make it home?  They shook hands with their fellow soldiers and wished them well. Captain Aubrey Herbert, who helped broker the truce, surveyed the scene with a Turkish captain who said: ‘at this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep ... God pity all of us poor soldiers”.

The August Offensive – Andrew Schultz, Australia

Five months into the campaign, the Allies mounted a complex plan to take control of the higher ground on the peninsula including Sari Bair Ridge, Hill 971 and Chunuk Bair.  The fighting at The Nek and Lone Pine was unmatched for brutal intensity.  At Lone Pine alone, over 2,000 Anzacs and 7,000 Turks were killed or wounded.  Victory for the allies proved impossible.  The Turks would call it Kanli Sirt – Bloody Ridge.  It was a month of sheer carnage.

This movement depicts the terrible final attempt by the Anzacs to break through the Turkish positions in August 1915.  The August offensive saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the campaign, all for a tiny gain of ground by the allies at an immense human cost.  Enduring everything the allies could throw at them, the Turkish defenders held firm and the fighting line barely changed.  Following the offensive, the stalemate resumed and would last until the final evacuation.

The Trenches Are Empty Now – Ross Edwards, Australia

This newly cast movement for the Gallipoli Symphony, featuring the didgeridoo, depicts the vast silent and vacant landscape after the evacuation of the allied forces. The battles are over and the invader has departed.  War continues but not at Gallipoli.  The trenches are empty.  Snow falls, covering the unburied dead.  There are reminders of the eight months of fighting: kilometres of trenches and roadways scarring the land, stretching as far as the eye can see.  Clusters of crosses and mounds of earth mark where soldiers were hurriedly buried.  Discarded supplies tell the tale of the evacuation.  The men have gone, but their traces remain, an integral part of the landscape over which they fought and so many gave their lives.  While the noise of battle has ceased, the reminders of the war are everywhere in the land, and in the hearts of nations. 

Hope of the Higher Heart – Demir Demirkan, Turkey

This movement, featuring traditional Turkish instruments, tells from the Turkish perspective the heartfelt hope that humanity might rise above its instinct for war, and move towards peace. The movement leads without break into the finale.

Future – Graeme Koehne AO, Australia

As the conclusion of the Gallipoli Symphony, this work looks forward with the knowledge of our shared past to our shared future.  While we will always remember, and hold close the memory of those who gave their lives, let new generations lead us towards a greater understanding of one another where tolerance and harmony prevail. Let them ask that we do not forget and that we may learn from the past to come together in peace.