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Anzac tour 2009

“I was present at the Menin Gate ceremony on Saturday 18 April when the Unley Concert Band participated. I was impressed both by their playing and, most appropriately in that setting, their bearing. The final counter-marching and Waltzing Matilda was carried off with great verve and swagger. Well done.” – Bob Morris, London

This was a comment from a gentleman who was witness to one of the many commemorative events with which Unley Concert Band was involved during the Anzac Tour of France and Belgium which was a tremendous success. The band has received much favourable state and nationwide press since returning to Australia at the end of April.

Amongst the successful performances in which the band was involved were:

  • A marching engagement down the main street of Ypres, Belgium, to the Menin Gate where the band provided the service music for their famous 8pm Last Post Ceremony. The band was privileged to be invited back to participate in the following two evenings, including at a Vice-Regal attendance of our South Australian Governor, Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce, at the request of the organisers, a possible first “hat-trick” for an Australian community band!
  • Participation in the Australian War Memorial Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux, broadcast nationally on the ABC, and a march and subsequent town centre service in the later morning in Villers-Bretonneux
  • Two ANZAC Day commemorative services in Bullecourt at the French and Digger Memorials in the late afternoon
  • The rare opportunity to lead a parade of retired French servicemen, flag bearers and officials in a march down the Champs Elysees in Paris to the Arc De Triomphe (an honour usually only afforded to French service bands). The band was asked to provide the music for the nightly La Flamme Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Our principal trumpet, Sarah Butler, was given the honour of playing The Last Post at this ceremony. The band was awarded the La Flamme medal for its exemplary participation in this famous ceremony and was extended an open invitation to return and participate at any time
  • A formal concert at the Cathedral Saint-Louis des Invalides for an audience of French and Australian Consulate dignitories, Church Music members and invited guests. The band received much enthusiastic applause from the audience at the conclusion of the concert
  • A concert as part of an afternoon concert series at the Madeleine Church in central Paris of French and Australian music such as Bizet, Herold, Grainger, Saint Saens and Kopetz
  • A very successful evening concert in the Covered Market at Villers-Bretonneux to a audience of rowdy, enthusiastic band supporters and local townsfolk. The band received several encore requests at this light and fun performance
  • A performance in conjuction with the Orchestre de Cuivres d’Amiens (Amiens Brass Band) at the Railway Station in Amiens Town Centre, including a show march for enthusiastic passers-by.

Many comments have been made from the press, members of the public and the organisers and officials of the events about Unley Concert Band’s professionalism, polish and discipline, particularly at the marching engagements and have been impressed with the high standard of performance from a South Australian community band.

Thank you to everybody who made this trip possible: the members for their hard work, time and effort in preparing for the ‘trip of a lifetime’, to the band supporters who travelled with UCB and were instrumental in the day-to-day running of the tour and also in providing memorable footage of this inaugural overseas trip, and to the business sponsors and our tour agent Angus Travel for their generous contributions. Particularly, many thanks must be extended to our ‘Chef De Tambour’ Jeff Hale for his patience, investment of time and professionalism in drilling the band to such a high marching standard. Furthermore, a huge thank you to our Musical Director Dr Kevin Cameron for his enormous contribution to the organisation and musical guidance of the trip, without which the Anzac Tour 2009 could never have happened.

A big thank you to the businesses and organisations that have been prepared to contribute to the success of the tour. In particular,

A Poetic Tribute to the Fallen

To All Who Follow ‘Our Young Boys’

We have heard from the days of our childhood and youth
of the wasted years of yore,
When thousand upon thousand of our brave young men
marched off together to the ‘great, last war’

What strange power drew these young men away
from their homes, their families and their lives;
Away from the office, the workshops, the farm,
To a battle ‘not theirs’, way over on the other side?

Was it a desire to be with their mates?
To prove they were a loyal, strong crowd
who could look hell and death in the face?
Would they make their mother proud?

Was it for king and country, God and right
that took them to that far off land?
Would things there be quickly made good
if they gave ‘old Tommie’ a hand?

They were only a generation or two
removed from their British roots.
Was the pointing finger and ‘We want you’
enough to make them ‘pull on the boots’?

So now, and all together, we follow their steps
to a place we have not before been, (but)
How vastly different is our quest from theirs,
Yet inexorably, divinely linked, it would seem.

Because they went and failed to come home,
Because their lives were cut so short,
We come to remember, reflect, and pause
to respectfully give thanks, as we ought.

Whilst there’s no good reason for their tragic loss.
Why one man would deny another his life.
It is the foremost reason that we come,
And quietly reflect from ‘beyond the strife’.

If by our coming, we, in some small way
can show harmony where once enmity stood,
Then their lives have used us to bridge some gaps,
And strengthen peace for the greater good.

So, play my friends, as you’ve not played before.
Your music has universal powers!
Play for the locals, the diggers back home,
And play for those ‘young boys’ still here, that are ours.

Written and presented byJim Warren
to the Unley Concert Band
At the outset of the
Anzac Tour of France And Belgium 2009

The Spirit Of Our Journey

An unnoticed Aussie came along with us
When we travelled to ‘Gay Paris’.
‘Who was this person,’ do I hear you say,
‘And how is it we did not see?’

He was there with us in Belgium,
And followed on to France.
That this likable larrikin won their hearts
was definitely not just chance.

He marched with us to Menin gate.
And was there under ‘the Arc’,
He was loud, and proud, and thrilled the thronging crowd,
He’s an Aussie, more popular than the Shark!

The spirit of our journey he truly was,
Never seen but always there —-
‘And the ghost may be heard as you pass by—‘
The presence of the Swagman was felt everywhere!

The French man has adopted our swagman,
They reckon he’s not all that bad.
Because long before they made it high fashion,
This swagman carried a bag!

The nature of this swaggie is little known.
It’s true, he took to the roads and lived with risk.
But if there was a dispute to settle
Did he do so with a fist?

Was he rough, was he tough?
Or did he have a heart of gold?
Someone had cut down branches for the starving sheep,
And chopped the widows wood without being told.

He was maybe not one for regimentation,
Not flamin’ likely to follow the rules!
Shiny boots and polished buttons?
That’s for those troopers —th’ bloody fools!

Yet there’s something about our swagman
that we respect and quietly revere,
Something that pumps our chest out
every time his song we hear.

‘Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
You’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me’.

As we loudly sing our swagman’s song,
Like him, for just a moment, we feel free!

So, be careful my friends, and be aware
that this swagman could lead you astray,
You might be subliminally swayed with awe,
So that maybe you’ll do some things his way!

Imagine — the next time our Drum Major calls ‘Band’
To quickly get us in line,
We might all be moved by the swagman
To collectively give him the sign!!!!

Written and presented byJim Warren
to the Unley Concert Band
At the final night (27 April) of the
Anzac Tour of France And Belgium 2009
Poppies D’Albert International School Hotel, Albert, France