MSO Side by Side


A war requiem for peace


About the performance

“One day I hope to walk on that country and feel no restless spirit – just the strength of two thousand generations of lives lived and culture sustained.”

Southwest of Melbourne lies a battleground, haunted with the memory of war and loss. The scars of the Eumeralla Resistance War (1840 – 1863) lie heavily upon the country.

“I first walked on this battlefield in 2013. The voices of those lost were so loud that it woke something in me and my immediate response was music. A song. A Requiem. A War Requiem, named in honour of one of the most brutal resistance wars fought on this continent.”

Eumeralla, a War Requiem for Peace brings into focus a period of Australia’s history that is yet to be fully understood. 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

In 2019 we celebrate the United Nation’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, and the 10th birthday of the Dhungala Children’s Choir.


Deborah Cheetham AO soprano (Yorta Yorta) | Linda Barcan mezzo soprano | Don Bemrose baritone (Gungarri) | MSO Chorus | Dhungala Children’s Choir

Featuring Masters students from Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and young talent from Melbourne Youth Orchestras.


Cheetham Eumeralla: A War Requiem for Peace

This piece is 65 minutes in length.

Eumeralla in Conversation

Tuesday 4 June
Iwaki Auditorium, ABC Southbank Centre
In Conversation: 6.00 – 7.15pm
Open Rehearsal: 7.30 – 8.45pm

As they prepare for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Eumeralla A War Requiem for Peace, composer and acclaimed Yorta Yorta soprano, Deborah Cheetham AO, conductor Benjamin Northey and Gunditjmara language Custodian, Aunty Vicki Couzens discuss the story, culture, language and music of Eumeralla. Through this conversation, Deborah and Aunty Vicki will give insight into the use of the Gunditjmara text, its meaning and its significance as a link to cultural identity for Indigenous peoples.

Join them in the intimate setting of Iwaki Auditorium, then stay for an exclusive Open Rehearsal by the MSO Chorus as they rehearse for the world symphonic premiere of Eumeralla, led by MSO Chorus Master, Warren Trevelyan-Jones.

Eumeralla: A War Requiem for Peace has been made possible with the help of Gunditjmara language custodian Vicki Couzens and linguist Kris Eira. Presented in collaboration with Short Black Opera.

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