Remembrance Day Family Concert

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ABOVE: Lights, camera, action! With the 1873-built St Mary’s Church and the 2016-built Canon Garland Memorial – ANZAC Day Origins as a dramatic backdrop, the music of The Recliners (Vyvian Black– vocal, trumpet and blues harp; Erik Van Der Weyden – bass guitar; Benjamin Drozdovskii – keyboard; Brenainn Simpson – drums) lilts across Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park at the Canon Garland Memorial Society’s inaugural “Remembrance Day Family Concert” on the balmy evening of Friday, 11 November 2016. Photo courtesy of Con Drozdovskii.

A remembrance and a celebration
– towards a review

By CON DROZDOVSKII of Canon Garland Memorial Society Incorporated

IF you missed last night’s outdoor concert at Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park – preferring instead to sit in front of the idiot box – then you missed something truly beautiful and unique.

Imagine, if you will, a perfect evening with a light, warm breeze.

Imagine too, a view of a beautiful historic church surrounded by trees, set against a background of the lights of a modern metropolis.

In front is a simple porphyry memorial, recalling an important event in Australia’s history: the creation of ANZAC Day and the citizens of Queensland who were that national institution’s architects.

Is the background scene set for you?

No matter how big or advanced your TV is, it could not begin to replace the beauty and the feeling of the real thing.

On either side of Canon Garland Memorial – ANZAC Day Origins which, on this evening, had coloured laser lights playing on it, joyfully chasing each other across its surface like red and green fireflies, were two gazebos set up as stages.

The evening started with a welcome from Gabba Ward Councillor on Brisbane City Council, Jonathan Sri (or, as he likes to be referred to, “Jonno” ), being read out.

As it is short and right on the mark for the occasion, here it is in full:

“Dear neighbours, please accept my sincere apologies for not joining you tonight. Sadly I can’t be everywhere at once, and this time of year is particularly busy. I encourage you to treat tonight not just as a night of free entertainment, but as a chance to meet your neighbours and connect with other members of the community. When there’s a break in entertainment, take a moment to say hi to the people sitting around you and maybe strike up a conversation. Surely one of the most important messages of tonight’s event is that we’re all in this together, and we need to look out for one another. War is a terrible thing, and the story of Canon Garland is a reminder that we should never glorify or celebrate war, but must stand united against those who would seek to solve problems with violence, while we also remember with gratitude the sacrifice of those who work to maintain and protect our peaceful society. Have a great night.
Cheers, Jonno.”

The performance opened by “Sing Australia” – a community-based choir, under the baton of Elizabeth Whittaker – who, having sung the National Anthem, then went on to perform songs that would have been familiar to the people celebrating Peace back in 1918.

The choir may be amateur, but their performance was strictly professional as some 30 people lifted their voices and filled the evening air with a number of pieces popular in the early part of the 20th Century in a medley – “Songs from the Trenches”.

They were followed by a solo performance by Robert Woodhouse, a “formidable” bass-baritone who gave us a song from almost a century ago and which is still popular today – “Danny Boy”, followed by as piece that was popular on both sides of the trenches, “Lili Marlene” and sung by the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Vera Lynn, which Robert sung in both German and English.

The Recliners then picked up the musical baton with a selection of their most popular pieces.

This very polished, jazz quartet has obviously been playing together for some time, as the offerings of these four vibrant musicians fused into one.

The group is led by Vyvian Black (vocal, trumpet and blues harp), with Erik Van Der Weyden on bass guitar, Benjamin Drozdovskii on keyboard, and Brenainn Simpson on drums.

I could wax lyrical about their performance, but suffice it to say that they have everything to make them great, except perhaps, as yet, sufficient publicity.

Many of you may well be unfamiliar with the original works of Innessa, a folk/pops/jazz singer as she is new to the Brisbane scene. This lady is definitely on her way to international fame.

Innessa enthralled the audience with songs of her own composition as well as some well known pieces such as “The Tennessee Waltz”“Bésame mucho” and so on, performing the songs in Spanish, English and Russian. She was ably supported by Michael Goursky and Ben Drozdovskii.

Look out for any of her upcoming concerts and make sure you go and listen to her art.

The next performance was a premiere by “Russian Tunes”, by a trio consisting of Alla Exarkho, Galina Pavlova and Natasha Kromin, accompanied by Tania Keating (button accordion); Vladimir Krieger (piano accordion) and Vladis Kosse (mandolin).

The ensemble gave the audience a series of Russian pieces, including the evergreen “Moscow Nights”.

Robert Woodhouse gave the audience a translation of the subject of the songs, making them more meaningful.

The amazing interplay of voices as they wove the melody when they harmonised, must simply be heard to be appreciated!

The instrumentalist performed “On the Hills of Manchuria” (an instrumental solo), a piece that is probably played in every corner of the globe.

The amazing voice of Brisbane’s well known tenor, Gregori Scanlan, was a special treat for the audience as he performed popular pieces and finished his bracket with Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, which melded the sound and scenery into a really unforgettable experience. Truly: a magnificent voice which would be at home in any opera house or stage in any country.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the accompanist, Benjamin Drozdovskii.

He virtually was the accompanist for every singer performance moving with beguiling ease from genre to genre doing what all great accompanists do – supporting the singer and keeping the attention on the performer: a mark of outstanding musician.

A special thanks goes to Cr Jonathan Sri, the Gabba Business Association, the parish of St. Mary’s Anglican Church and of course to the Canon Garland Memorial Society Incorporated for their support in giving the people of Brisbane a truly memorable evening.

Perhaps the sentiments expressed by Private Michael Joseph Flaherty, a soldier serving on the troop landing ship, HMAS Kanimbla (I), as he contemplated being demobbed at the end of the World War II, expressed the promise of Remembrance Day best:

“I look forward with the thought that mankind has, at last, realised the futility and brutality of war and that the peoples of the world can, at last, live peaceably and amicably together in a tolerant world free of aggression and persecution…I, and thousands like me, have not put up with the discomforts and terrors of war to go back to the old Australia – but a new, brighter and better Australia which will provide hope and promise for its people to lead a happy and productive life free of want. This is the Australia I want to go back to and I want to feel pride that those who have fallen have not fallen IN VAIN.”


Remembrance Day Family Concert

Won’t you join with us to celebrate the peace heralded by Armistice Day, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 at the end of the “War to End All Wars” – with a free, family-friendly concert featuring some of Brisbane’s loveliest voices and musicians under the stars in the park?

Canon Garland Memorial Society Incorporated, in association with Gabba Business Association and Councillor Jonathan Sri of Brisbane City Council’s Gabba Ward, is proud to announce its inaugural, community-based, free “Remembrance Day Family Concert” to celebrate freedom and harmony, to be held in Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, Main Street, Kangaroo Point, on Friday, 11 November 2016 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

Featuring some of Brisbane’s finest vocalists and musicians, this event is intended to be a gentle, family-oriented expression of joy for the gift of peaceful co-existence enjoyed and cherished by everyone who calls Australia “home”.

The line-up includes vocal ensemble, “The Sing Australia Choir” ; renowned tenor soloist, Gregori Scanlan, and baritone soloist, Robert Woodhouse, accompanied by pianist, Ben Drozdovskii ; jazz trio, The Recliners” ; Russian-born songstress, Innessa ; the “Russian Tunes” trio ; and soloists drawn from the Russian Folkloric Ensemble, Samotsvety” .

The family-friendly programme is as follows:

  • ROBERT WOODHOUSE (“Danny Boy”, “Lili Marlene”)
  • INNESSA (“I Will Fly”, “The Ash Tree — Yasen”)
  • “THE RECLINERS” (a selection of jazz numbers)
  • THE SING AUSTRALIA CHOIR (“Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “If You Were the Only Girl in the World”“Over the Rainbow”, “Let There Be Peace On Earth”)
  • “RUSSIAN TUNES” – trio (“On the Hills of Manchuria”, “The Way You Were”, “Katusha”)
  • ROBERT WOODHOUSE (“Old Man River”)
  • GREGORI SCANLAN (“The Burnt Letter”, Ave Maria”, “Nella Fantasia”)
  • “RUSSIAN TUNES” — trio (“Moscow Nights”, “Oh, the Viburnum Blooms”, “Samovar”)
  • “THE RECLINERS” (a selection of jazz numbers)
  • GREGORI SCANLAN (“Bring Him Home”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”“O God,  Our Help in Ages Past”)
  • “THE RECLINERS” (a selection of jazz numbers)


The performances will be staged in front of Canon Garland Memorial – ANZAC Day Origins, at the St Mary’s Anglican Church end of Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park.

For directions see the map below.

This is planned as a strictly alcohol-free, family-friendly event.

Limited refreshments will be available at the venue. As the seating will be on the lawn, please remember to bring a blanket and a cushion to sit on!

  • For a PDF version of our 28 October 2016 Media Release, click on MARK I
  • For a PDF version of our 2 November 2016 Media Release, click on MARK II


Wonder what you thought of the Remembrance Day Family Concert event and about the performers who so kindly donated their time and talents for your musical enjoyment?

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