Christopher Bowen, OAM, Music Director and Composer
Christopher Bowen was born in Melbourne and studied music at Melbourne University and the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien (Vienna Conservatorium), where he studied conducting. He has worked with many organisations including the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Opera Australia, the Victorian State Opera and the Conservatoriums in Sydney and Vienna.
His conducting repertoire embraces the major orchestral and choral works from the 16th century to contemporary music and through his innovative programming he has introduced many new and neglected works to audiences – in particular the choral works of Camille Saint-Saëns such as “Le Déluge”; “Requiem”;“Oratorio de Noël” and the “Mass Opus 4”. In 2006, he conducted the first Australian performance of Beethoven’s forgotten masterpiece “Cantata on the death of Joseph II”.
Christopher’s considerable body of composition comprises orchestral and choral works, instrumental and chamber music. He has also written two works: “Nosferatu” and “Casablanca” for the stage. His compositions and arrangements have received critical and public acclaim and have been broadcast on the ABC, ORF (Austrian Radio) and 2MBS-FM, and performed by orchestras such as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In recent years major commissions have produced works such as “Triste, Triste”; “Chorea”; the “Liberdade Requiem” (dedicated to those who died whilst fighting for East Timor’s independence); the satirical “Democratie” based on Arthur Rimbaud’s prose-poem; “Tenebrae”; and an extended setting of Christopher Brennan’s evocative poem “Sweet silence after bells”. In 2011 he was commissioned by the Sydney University Graduate Choir to compose “Songs of the Heart” which was dedicated to Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO. The premiere of this work, a setting of five poems by Brennan was greeted with acclaim.
Christopher has released a number of CDs of his works, including a recording by the Australian National Orchestra and Choir. In 2011 a recording of Saint-Saëns Mass Opus 4 was released featuring the Sydney University Graduate Chamber Choir.
In 2008, Christopher was made an Honorary Fellow of the University of Sydney in recognition of his contribution to its cultural life. That same year he also received the Stephen Lardner award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to adult education, and in 2009 he received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to music.
Pamela Traynor, Librettist
Pamela’s love of the arts from a young age has been influential in her career, leading her to work in diverse roles ranging from writing and filmmaking to classical music and acting.
Her work in Concerts at the ABC consolidated her passion for classical music, and her writing and producing have won a number of awards for film including the American Film Festival; Silver Medal Houston International Film Festival; New York Film and TV Festival; Silver Screen Award U.S.A. Film Festival; International Peace Award – Moscow Film Festival; Australian Media Peace Prize and four AFI nominations including Best Screenplay.
Her book “Roads to Recovery” which examines the lives of those who survived illness, accident and loss was published by Allen and Unwin both in Australia and the UK. In the UK she has worked for the BBC and ATV (ITC) and in Australia, ABC-TV, ABC Radio, the former Film Australia and the Commercial Networks.
Her documentary special for ABC Radio about the Australian writer, Dymphna Cusack, won a Gold Citation Media Peace Prize award.
The marriage of words and music is a unique art form and her collaboration as librettist with Christopher Bowen OAM has been most rewarding.
The idea for the Australian War Requiem began in 2012 when Christopher Bowen first suggested the idea of a music composition inspired by the letters written by Australian soldiers to their mothers during World War One. The research and writing of the text was a highly emotional journey: Pamela read hundreds of letters written by these soldiers – many of whom died in combat – and a small number of letters written by mothers to their sons which have luckily survived the battlefields during World War 1. Pamela and Christopher’s hope is that this work will be a lasting legacy for future generations and audiences in a quest for peace. They plan to collaborate on future projects.