Thursday, April 26, 2012

ANZAC Day: Changi Songbook

I got treated to a fabulous concert on ANZAC Day: a recital of the Changi Songbook. These were the original songs composed by the AIF Changi Concert Party, a troupe of talented prisoners who performed for POW in Singapore in WW2. The songs are fantastic 1940s fare but they're also so much more. They reflect the humour and hopes of the 22 000 Australian prisoners. The show was interspersed by stories of the prisoner experience, jokes from their pantos and images of POW life. It was terribly moving. As there commander said after the war, "The medical units kept the men fit while the Concert Party did all they could to keep the men's spirit alive". The performance was a bit ragged and the band didn't exactly swing but one of the performers completely captured the 1940s singing style and overall it was a joy and a privilege to watch.

It also reminded me that one of the two composers of the material, Slim de Grey, appears in the excellent ABC miniseries Changi. The show also features a depiction of a performance by the Concert Party. It's a fantastic series and I think I'll be watching it again. - Toodle Pip!


Anonymous said...

Was it a live concert you saw? Where was it? Or was it a DVD. Unsure. Do you remember hearing the Melbourne Welsh Choir singing songs of the wars, at the National Gallery. Stirring singing always brings a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye, doesn't it.

Curvy Kitty said...

Live at the Recital Hall round the corner from the gallery. Three singers, ukulele, double bass, piano, clarinet, violin. Very moving. There's a cd featuring the original composers - I'm getting it on inter library loan if you'd like to borrow it.