Five minutes with…Ashlyn Tymms

Mezzo soprano Ashlyn Tymms answers questions about the personal significance of performing in ‘An Australian War Requiem’, and the relevance of this centenary commemoration.

What did you find tempting about the invitation to sing in An Australian War Requiem?

Ashlyn Tymms – winner Joan Carden Award 2015

Knowing Christopher and Pamela personally I was firstly very interested to look at the work they had created. Then sitting down with the score and listening through to the piece I was immediately engaged and struck by the immediacy of this piece. The fact that these words come from real letters from those who served at the front line makes this a very special piece of music. Grouping this intrigue with the opportunity to sing with a fantastic group of soloists, choir and orchestra in the Sydney Town Hall, it really is an honour to be invited to sing on this occasion.

Do you have a personal connection to the Great War?

Both of my Great Grandfathers served. My Grandmother’s Father in France, 3rd division artillery, and my Grandfather’s Father survived Gallipoli.

What is the most poignant (and enduring) image evoked for you by the libretto?

There are many images evoked throughout this piece which strike me.

The repetition of text within Tableau 1, ‘men have fallen and died, every day of each year, every hour, day and year’ sung tutti, stays with me as well as the final text sung of the piece ‘at the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them.’

These phrases nestled in and around strong scenes of horror and sadness bring about a sense of peace and remembering of all the souls that were lost.

What do you think is the key message of the AWR, for us one hundred years after the Armistice?

Because of the text being so closely related with actual letters written by soldiers it brings about a sense of reality. The music is directly communicating the emotions and scenes that were taking place. We get a glimpse into what it was like for these men and women. The horror, confusion, loss and sadness. The message for peace therefore rings very clear.

What are you looking forward to most about performance on November 11?

I’m looking forward to bringing the score to life collectively, hearing what the other solo artists bring to their parts as well as the choir and orchestra. It will be a special performance.

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