Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace

A significant step in Australia’s journey of reconciliation
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— Tony Way, Limelight

THE ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL VALUE OF THIS WORK WILL NO DOUBT MARK IT IN THE ANNALS OF AUSTRALIAN MUSIC AS A COMPOSITION OF MAJOR SIGNIFICANCE
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— Maxim Boon, Sydney Morning Herald

about the eumeralla war…

There is no memorial to the Eumeralla War. No Australian Prime Minister has ever visited the battleground. The history of battles fought over a period of 23 years have drawn a deafening silence in the 170 years since the last shots rang out. While the Gunditjmara people have language and ceremony to honour their fallen heroes those on the other side of the conflict have no language to describe their ancestor’s fate. Unlike other conflicts in which Australians have fought and died, no peace was ever declared in the Eumeralla War. In providing the opportunity for a largely non-Indigenous choir to learn a major choral work entirely in the ancient language of the Gunditjmara people, Eumeralla will create a powerful way to engage and enlighten those unfamiliar with the history of the resistance wars. Unlike other Australian war heroes, those who died in the resistance wars are not acknowledged in contemporary Australian society. This work will recognise the lives lost on both sides of the fighting and allow peace to be declared. In the long term, the work will become a resource for language preservation, historical data and education. It will become a vehicle for other musical organisations to present a work that engages with Australia’s Indigenous history, exposing the wider Australian community to our shared history by expressing Indigenous culture in a meaningful and powerful way. The traditional languages of the continent are the key to understanding our connection to this land in 21st century Australia.

Written and composed by acclaimed Yorta Yorta soprano, composer and Artistic Director of Short Black Opera, Deborah Cheetham AO, this requiem for peace, will be sung entirely in the ancient dialects of the Gunditjmara people.

“It is my hope that this requiem will help the spirits of those who fell to find a lasting peace and that we, their descendants, might find our way to deeper understanding of the legacy of these battles. Eumeralla: a war requiem for peace will break the silence of so many decades and serve to amplify the importance of our nation’s shared history.”

Deborah Cheetham AO

Eumeralla: a war requiem for peace has been made possible with the help of Gunditjmara language custodian Vicki Couzens and linguist Kris Eira.