Australian War Requiem

An Australian War Requiem was first performed in August 2014 at the Sydney Town Hall and was greeted with critical acclaim. This unique work will be performed again in 2018,  on Armistice Day 11th November at 3.00pm in the wonderful surrounds of the Sydney Town Hall. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, and judging by the comments from those present at the work's premiere in 2014, this promises to be a unique musical experience.

"Just to say how fabulous the War Requiem was in every respect.  So well done and so moving. We both thought the music itself was terrific and exceeded expectations."

"Our warmest congratulations all round for an absolutely magnificent performance of that wonderful work! It was simply mind-blowing and superbly sung and played. What a masterpiece!

"A truly moving experience with instant standing ovation at the end. Without consultation, every person there knew what a magnificent event they had just witnessed. I think this work will go down in history."

"What a magnificent performance of an amazing work! Congratulations! We loved it and were very moved - me to tears. An unforgettable experience."

"It was brilliant, very moving - you could have heard a pin drop in the audience. This stands up well against the Britten. It was a privilege to be in the audience."

It was a great to be part of the enterprise, and the concert was; a stirring success. My daughter, who is a very accomplished musician (and an alto singer) said it was the most moving choral work she has ever listened to."

"I am still savouring the after-glow of the wonderful and very moving performance of An Australian War Requiem on Sunday. Congratulations to Chris for his brilliant composition as well as his sheer musicianship and energy in pulling off the memorable performance so eloquently, with so many forces involved. I have heard only accolades since the concert."

"It was probably the most wonderful singing event of my life for many reasons. The composition itself is incredibly beautiful, powerfully reflective and quite a cathartic experience."

"I’ll be telling my grandchildren one day about this one!"

"It was a marvellous experience to sing in this great work."

"I found the experience profoundly moving. At the end I doubt there were many dry eyes in the audience or the choir. The score was amazing, truly one of the great requiems!"

"Fabulous, yes. And exciting, moving, beautiful. I just want to do it again - and again! Walking away from the stage I saw many lingering around with beatified faces, or talking with excitement; it was clear that it had been a great experience for them too."

 "An exciting and moving performance. It is a musical memory that I will cherish."

 "I too felt that it was a complete privilege to have been able to sing in such a significant, moving, powerful and yet in places sorrowfully beautiful musical composition. An experience I know I shall never forget. I also struggled at times in rehearsal with a lump in my throat and tears pricking in my eyes."
"The music was stunning - reflective and stirring, and I am sure no one in the audience would have left there unaffected. The blend of voices and orchestra, the vocal soloists and the instrumental soloists all combined so well to create the feeling of loss and grief, and the ending I thought was particularly poignant. I‘m sure Chris is very happy with it and the composition will be viewed as an Australian masterpiece."

"What an absolute honour it was to be involved with that performance. I am weeping AGAIN just thinking about it – as did my friends who were totally inconsolable. They said the WHY WHY started them off,  then the bugle followed by the Anzac pledge and the piper. All absolutely too too much. I do hope I can get to sing it again some time."

"It was a privilege to work with you all. It was an emotional experience for both performers and the audience."

"The feedback has been incredible. For the performance and also for the composition. There were composers in the audience who were so impressed with the writing."

"I really do feel so privileged to have been involved - it really was just as you said it would be - a very special ‘event’ - not just ‘another concert’.  I was very moved during the performance." 

“An impressive performance indeed. An ambitious project which involved many people and which was delivered with great aplomb”

 "I can honestly say that it was one of those concerts that will be remembered as a highlight of my musical career."




Just recently completed, this extended work  commissioned by Dr. Robyn Williams AM, draws its inspiration from the iconic speech delivered in 1992 by the then Prime Minister, the Honourable Paul Keating. The libretto by Pamela Traynor, is a wonderful distillation of this profound document which resonates as powerfully today as it did 26 years ago.

The music reflects and amplifies the need to acknowledge truthfully and with courage  this nation's history  and its treatment of its first people.

The work is about 35 minutes in length and is scored for large orchestra, choir and 2 soloists (soprano & bass).


Concerts 2018



directed by Christopher Bowen OAM

Sunday 6th May 3.00pm  Great Hall, University of Sydney


MENDELSSOHN  Psalm 42 Op.42  Wie der Hirsch schreit

MENDELSSOHN  Psalm 114 Op.51  Da Israel aus Agypten zog

NICOLAI  Te Deum 1832

Elke Hook - soprano    Keara Donohoe - alto

Joshua Oxley - tenor    David Hidden - bass




directed by Christopher Bowen OAM

Sunday 12th August 3.00pm  Great Hall, University of Sydney


BEETHOVEN  Cantata for the Death of Joseph II WoO  87

BEETHOVEN  Mass in C major Op.86

Anita Kyle - soprano    Agnes Sarkis - alto

Nicholas Jones - tenor    Simon Lobelson - bass



directed by Christopher Bowen OAM

Sunday 26th August 2.30pm  Gosford High School Auditorium

PURCELL   Funeral Music of Queen Mary

DURANTE (arr. J.S. Bach)    Mass in C minor

DURANTE     Concerto grosso in G minor

VIVALDI     Magnificat


Elke Hook - soprano    Timothy Chung - alto    

Nathan Bryon - tenor    Mark Watson - bass


Sunday 11th November 3.00pm  SYDNEY TOWN HALL

"SYDNEY SINGS" An Australian War Requiem


directed by Christopher Bowen OAM

Waitara Voices      Mercy College Choir

Taryn Fiebig - soprano    Ashlyn Tymms - mezzo

Andrew Goodwin - tenor    Adrian Tamburini - bass    

Wade Kernot - bass



directed by Christopher Bowen OAM

Sunday 25th November 3.00pm  Gosford High School Auditorium


"MESSIAH"  -   Handel

Elke Hook - soprano    Timothy Chung - alto    

Joshua Oxley  -  tenor          Simon Lobelson - bass



directed by Christopher Bowen OAM

Sunday 9th December 5.00pm  Great Hall, University of Sydney


ROSSINI   Petite Messe Solonnelle

Elke Hook - soprano    Ashlyn  Tymms - mezzo

Ben Oxley - tenor     David Hidden - bass

Antonio Fernandez - piano    Noah Peres - piano

Monika Kornel - harmonium

Tuesday 18th December 8.00pm  SYDNEY TOWN HALL


            A Christmas Extravaganza


Exciting news just in

Exciting news just in

The premiere of AWR, which was recorded at the Sydney Town Hall on August 10th ,2014, 
will be broadcast by Fine Music102.5 FM on Anzac day, Saturday, 25th April at 4pm.
Don't miss this opportunity to experience this "moving and inspiring work".

The recording has also been chosen by Fine Music 102.5FM as its "CD of the week", prior to the broadcast.

August 2014 marked the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1. To honour this important anniversary and that of the Gallipoli campaign, theSydney University Graduate Choir commissioned composer and Music Director Christopher Bowen OAM to write an Australian War Requiem. The composition is inspired by letters between soldiers at the front and their mothers at home in a libretto by Pamela Traynor.

‘An Australian War Requiem’ premiered at the Sydney Town Hall at 3:00pm on Sunday, 10 August 2014 in the presence of  the Governor-General, General the Hon.Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (retd) and Lady Cosgrove.  

The forces required for the work (75 minutes duration) are S.S.T.B.B soloists, a large chorus, semi-chorus, children's choir and large orchestra . After its successful premiere, the work is now available for performance by other choirs around Australia and overseas. The following artists and choirs took part in the premiere.

 Sydney University Graduate Choir and Orchestra (Leader Stan Kornel)
"George Faunce Allman" Guest Choir
Waitara Voices (Director: Jenny Bell)
Fort Street High School Choir  (rehearsed by Lyndall Haylen)

Celeste Lazarenko (soprano)
Ayse Göknur Shanal (soprano)
Henry Choo (tenor)
Adrian Tamburini (bass)
Christopher Richardson (bass)

directed by Christopher  Bowen

In 2012 Sydney University Graduate Choir (SUGC) submitted a proposal to the Federal Government through the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board for an original music composition and performance for the World War 1 centenaries. That proposal was accepted by the government, as part of the important national celebrations for these centenaries in recognition that this is the first large scale composition by an Australian composer to address the impact of the Great War, despite its importance in the development of the Australian sense of national identity. The choir was subsequently awarded an Arts and Culture grant from the Australian Government, through the Attorney General’s Department- Ministry for the Arts, for this important event.

The work was composed by SUGC’s Music Director, the Melbourne-born, Vienna-trained Christopher Bowen OAM, who has created a number of successful large-scale choral productions. The libretto for this new work by Pamela Traynor, is constructed from letters between soldiers at the front and their mothers in Australia, juxtaposed with text from the Stabat Mater depicting the grief of Mary at the suffering and death of her son. Mr Bowen received assistance from the Australian War Memorial in finding suitable material, and made a self-funded visit to Gallipoli and the battlefields of the Western Front in order to absorb the atmosphere of those places.

The work, a meditation on conflict and loss, is divided into three tableaux.

TABLEAU 1: The Horror of War
TABLEAU: Sons and Mothers
TABLEAU 3: Reflections on Loss