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Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s landmark Australian music project

This February, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra undertook a major and historically significant Australian music recording project, a double CD recording of the orchestral works of the Olympic gold-medal-winning oarsman, noted pianist, deeply gifted composer and WWI soldier Frederick Septimus Kelly (1881-1916), who has been described as ‘Australia’s most important cultural loss of the Great War’. This will be the first time his orchestral and large-scale works will be heard.

The upcoming release will feature seven world premiere recordings as well as the TSO’s recording of Kelly’s Elegy for Rupert Brooke, a piece which since its recent rediscovery has been widely acknowledged as a masterwork and performed around the world.

Four of the works were written during his war service — the Elegy for Rupert Brooke in the trenches at Gallipoli, the two Preludes during his training in the UK and subsequent voyage to Gallipoli on the troopship Grantully Castle, and the Somme Lament which was written two weeks before his death at the Battle of the Somme on 13 November 1916.

Two other works date from the eve of war: his orchestral version of his song Aghadoe dates from 1914 and his Monograph 16 was written in 1913, premiered in 1914, and revised until 1916 — his diaries record that he played it often during the war whenever he could find a piano.

The TSO recording is conducted by Benjamin Northey and features Christina Wilson (soprano) and Andrew Goodwin (tenor). It was produced with funding assistance from the ANZAC Centenary Arts and Culture Fund and will be launched in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne in November, with a performance from a TSO ensemble at the Canberra event.