Welcome to the busy Passion News Desk.
For further background about the A Passion for Peace project, read through our previous newsletters and visit our website.
DIARY DATES - AT A GLANCE
As 2014 comes to an end we have our eyes firmly on the ‘end game’ for our Passion project — our 5-day festival from 28 April to 2 May 2015 at the Albert Hall, Canberra.
Tues 28 April, Thur 30 April and Sat 2 May, 7.30 pm
A Passion for Peace performances
The full program for these activities is being developed and will be published in early 2015.
PASSION FOR PEACE FESTIVAL TICKETS
Early Bird ‘Gold Pass’ tickets for the whole week are available now from A Chorus of Women for $100 ($80 concession). Each Gold Pass includes one performance of A Passion for Peace and entry into any other events during the week. Click on the 'Tickets and Donate' button for details on how to order and pay for your Gold Pass.
A Gold Pass would also make a great Christmas present!
Tickets for specific events will be available in early 2015.
Saturday 10 January, 10 am – 4 pm — ‘Many hands make light work workshop’
At the home of Sarah Stitt (address details will be sent when you RSVP)
>> Bring snacks and lunch to share.
The main focus of the day will be to finalise the program for the Albert Hall and to plan logistics and publicity for the festival.
RSVP to Janet Salisbury on 0416 167 280 or at email@example.com
After just six weeks of rehearsal, on Tuesday 11 November, we nervously opened the doors of Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C) in Barton at 7.30 pm, not knowing how many people would come and how they would react to the first performance of the new music that Glenda Cloughley has been composing for the community oratorio that we will perform in full next April/May at the Albert Hall.
We needn’t have worried – by 7.15 there was a queue of people waiting to buy tickets and the space was soon full.
In addition to the 35 singers in the Chorus, we were lucky to have an amazing cast of soloists including Louise Page (who sang the part of the 1915 Congress Chair, Jane Addams), Angela Giblin (sang Dr Aletta Jacobs of The Netherlands who called the Congress), Jenny Sawer, Judy Clingan and Margaret Sim. We were also honoured to have David Pereira (cello) among our cast of wonderful musicians.
From when the first note sounded, the audience was immersed. Glenda had devised a truly beautiful and moving composition of words and music. The performance of the Chorus and the soloists was astonishing, complemented by the wonderful acoustics at ACC&C.
The audience was not backwards in coming forwards with praise and gratitude. Just some of the things attendees had to say afterwards or kindly wrote in our guestbook included:
"As soon as the singing began, it was magic."
"The music was sublime...a truly stunning work."
“I still feel the ‘glow’ from the evening, and it has given me a lot of joy.”
"The music is superb. Altogether it is magnificent...I felt the connection with the1915 women in the performance.”
The immense positivity towards the work -- the music, the words, the performance and the inspiration -- was reinforced by the number of people who stayed behind to talk with Glenda and other members of Chorus about the work so far and to offer their thoughts towards the words and music Glenda continues to write as she completes A Passion for Peace.
Feedback during this conversation also reinforced that as we edge closer to the Gallipoli centenary, the desire and need within our community to have alternative narratives for how we remember war, are both very real and legitimate.
See the program of the performance for further information about the evening and details of our amazing cast.
We Women — Centenary Fanfare for WILPF
As a gift to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom for its 100th birthday, Glenda has composed a ‘Centenary Fanfare’ for WILPF called ‘ We women — are an international league for peace and freedom’. We premiered this piece at the 11 November performance. Introducing the song, Glenda mentioned A Chorus of Women’s association with WILPF over the past 11+ years and the inspiration we have drawn from the ACT and national members of the organisation. Glenda dedicated this first performance of the song to Hellen Cooke, a long time and active WILPF member, who died in August 2013, not long after she had written to Glenda saying how thrilled she was to hear about the Passion project.
To make the gift of the song to the Australian and international WILPF communities, last Sunday we gathered at the Belconnen Arts Centre with Kimmo Vennonen (audio specialist ) and Miriam Pickard (filmmaker) to record and film us singing this song. After a most enjoyable 3 hours, enough sound recording and film footage had been collected for Kimmo and Miriam to create a video and recoding to send around the world. Watch this space – and You-tube! (Hopefully it will go viral.)
In September we received the wonderful news that the Passion project had been awarded an artsACT grant of $25,000 towards the staging costs for the three performances at the Albert Hall next year.
We were not so lucky with our application for a Graham F Smith Peace Foundation Grant; and we are still waiting to hear the outcome of a submission to the Anzac Arts Grants.
In the meantime, if you support our mission, please make a donation towards the cost of the Passion project, or purchase a Gold Pass to the festival for yourself or for your friends. Also, please pass this information on to your friends and contacts that you think may be interested in helping us.
We are also running a raffle with some absolutely fabulous prizes to be won including a 100% cotton batik quilt crafted by Pam Strickland. The raffle will be drawn on 2 May 2015 at the Albert Hall. Raffle tickets are $5 each and if you would like to purchase tickets or sell them on our behalf, contact Sarah Stitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE PRESS: On 10 November, The Canberra Times’ Ian Warden (who is a great supporter of the Passion project) published another article, Gang-gang: Chorus of Women sing a different tune for Gallipoli centenary.
In early November, Glenda, Johanna, Sarah and Janet had a 1-hour interview with Canberra@work on Community radio 2XX. Glenda and Janet were each interviewed on ABC 666 in the week leading up to our 11 November performance.
Our thanks to Chris Wagner for help with a media release for 11 November and other assistance and advice.
CALLING THE SINGERS
Glenda’s music includes sections for all levels of ability, with some more challenging sections for soloists and small ensembles, and some choruses and chorales for less confident singers. However, it would be helpful if most singers joining in February 2015 have some choral or other musical experience, can read music and learn their part quite easily.
>> If you have friends or relations who fit this description, please let them know about this project. We feel sure that all singers joining A Chorus of Women and the other performers in this venture will remember it for the rest of their lives.
Judith Clingan, our Senior Artistic Adviser for the Passion, has said in letters to choristers, "The combined impact of a beautiful, sincere text which will cause singers to think deeply about the great issues facing humanity, with exquisitely expressive music, in a unique yet approachable style, is rarely encountered, and will be treasured by all lucky enough to perform A Passion for Peace."
MEETINGS AND REHEARSALS
>> Rehearsals for A Passion for Peace will be on Sunday afternoons, starting on Sunday 1 February, 3.30-5.30 pm. A detailed schedule will be posted shortly and sent to all singers.
Planning meetings will be on Thursdays at 7.45 pm starting from 15 January. We need more helpers for publicity, administration, various logistics at the Albert Hall and other tasks — please consider joining us if you are interested in this project. See our ‘Singers and helpers’ page for further details.
THE CHRISTMAS LETTERS OF 1914
Many people know the story of the ‘Christmas truce’ of 1914, when British and German soldiers laid down their arms and met in ‘no man’s land’ between the trenches, played soccer together, sang carols and shared food and cigarettes. However, less well known is a remarkable exchange of letters that occurred between prominent English and German suffragists and peace activists also at Christmas 1914. These women, whose menfolk were fighting each other, were able to reach out with love and compassion to women from the other side of the war and show how the common ground of lament and loss is always stronger and more creative than the polarising forces of conflict and war.
Meanwhile, in Australia on 22 December 1914, prominent women’s rights and peace activist, and the first Australian woman to stand for election to parliament, Vida Goldstein, wrote in The Women's Voter a
Christmas Message to the Women of All Nations — ‘Let us go forth to fight for peace on Earth, good will to men.’ The letter was a rally to the women of the world to demand resolution of international disputes through democratic processes involving men and women, and she pledged Australian women’s ‘loyal support in their efforts to destroy war’.
Glenda is writing this remarkable exchange among the women of the world into the section of her community oratorio, A Passion for Peace. These extracts from Glenda’s libretto poignantly tell the story.
The Loneliest Christmas
the loneliest Christmas
with fathers and husbands
and sons gone to war
While grandmas and granddads
mums, boys and girls
set Christmas tables
with silent places
the ‘greatest’ of causes
Mother England and
The words fire an ache
in the breastbones of women
In sweethearts and sisters
an arrow of dread
Peace is not merely an absence of war
Peace is the nurture of human life
We’re dreaming of Peace on Earth!
Peace on Earth!
In all their fear
for men they love
still kindle hope
Out of the dark night
a new moon rising
sends greetings from Melbourne
VIDA GOLDSTEIN AND THE AUSTRALIAN CHORUS:
‘To the women of all nations
we pledge our support
Let us go forth for peace and goodwill
Let us go forth to help destroy war
2000 years of the gospel of peace
and men have rushed to war again!
The time has come for women to lead
The time has come for women to show
that we givers of life refuse
to give our sons for slaughter!’
‘Women of the world
You who believe that life is sacred
Let us unite our will and power
for democracy and freedom’
In Mother Night’s cradle
the crescent moon carries
hope from Australia
to Europe in winter
As that sliver of light
Slips through the black sky ––
In Munich and London
The same song rings out
In the freezing night
with fear, with grief
and longing for peace and freedom
a Christmas Chorus of German women
gathers around Anita Augspurg
and Lida Heymann
CHORUS OF GERMAN WOMEN:
‘True humanity knows
no national hatred
no national contempt
To the women of all nations
warm hearty greetings
in these wretched bloody times’
We’re dreaming of Peace on Earth!
‘War should not separate women united
in striving for the highest of goals
War should not separate women united
for personal and political freedom
The stream of blood from the dead and wounded
must not divide us –– and must not divide
what need and hope unite’ 
CHORUS OF AUSTRALIAN AND GERMAN WOMEN:
We’re dreaming of Peace on Earth!
White and clear
Is Christmas in London
As Emily Hobhouse
sees the new moon
Burdened with grief
are the women with her
Bitter their fear
for soldiers they love
Yet this Chorus of British women –
One hundred and one in harmony –
Solemnly greet the enemy
And sing for peace and goodwill
CHORUS OF BRITISH WOMEN:
‘Dear women of Germany and Austria
With all the world at war
we are united by anguish this sad Christmastide
in this sisterhood of sorrow
Is it not our mission to preserve life?
Then mustn’t we urge that peace be made
to save the womanhood
to save the childhood
and save the manhood of Europe?’
We’re dreaming of Peace on Earth!
‘Sisters of Germany and Austria,
for humanity and common sense
we should join with women in neutral countries
to urge our rulers to stay further bloodshed.’
CHORUS OF AUSTRALIAN, GERMAN AND BRITISH WOMEN:
We’re dreaming of Peace on Earth!
all is calm
all is bright.
 The full libretto includes a martial rap based on The Sydney Morning Herald editorial of Friday 25 December 1914.
 Vida Goldstein’s beloved brother Selwyn enlisted in October 1915 and died in France in 1917.
 The words of this verse are from Woman Voter, Melbourne, 11 August 1914.
 The words of verses 1 and 3 are from the Christmas Greeting to the Women of all Nations published in Woman Voter on 22 December 1914, which also contained a call for unity in demanding democratic representation of men and women at an international peace conference, arbitration of conflict among nations, abolition of compulsory military service and secret diplomacy, government control of the armament industry, and government prohibition of the export of capital to foreign countries except for peaceful purposes.
 This lyric is written from two letters published in Jus Suffragii (the official periodical of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance) in December 1914. Principal writers of one letter, signed by many German women activists, were Anita Augspurg and Lida Gustava Heymann. Clara Zetkin wrote the other.
 Jus Suffragii, December 1914.
A CHRISTMAS GREETING FOR 2014 FROM THE PASSION PROJECT TEAM
Commemorations of the centenary of Anzac Day and other battles of the First World War are ever increasing as we move towards the centenary of Anzac Day, but we wonder what these continual retellings of military history tell us about peace? We hope that our Passion for Peace project will provide an opportunity for a different discourse, and reinvigorate the voice of women, in particular, to realise the vision of our 1915 great grandmothers.
In the meantime, we wish you all a happy and restful Christmas and, a peaceful New Year.
Don’t forget to find us on Facebook and spread the word to your networks.