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Our Historic Trip to France to Sing for the ANZAC commemorations.




April 2024


I have the wonderful opportunity to be part of the fabulous historic event in Amiens in France.

(I am in the centre of the front row wearing the black beret.


Chantefique, Brisbane’s only French singing choir, will participate in the dedication of the

memorial Bridge of Friendship at the opening of the Australian-Amiens Garden of Dreams

in Amiens, France, on April 24, 2024.

‘Many Australians are familiar with the strong connection between our country and the region

of Amiens and Villers-Bretonneux, and as people united by our love of music and our affection for

French culture, we are thrilled to be part of this significant event,’ said Narelle Todman, Director of

Chantefique.

The people of Amiens hold a deep appreciation for Australia, stemming from the Battle of Amiens

(August 8–11, 1918) in World War 1. This battle marked the beginning of a string of Allied

offensive successes on the Western Front that led to the collapse of the German army and the

end of the war. On 8 August at 4:20 am, the assembled Allied forces, including Australians,

launched an offensive to push through the German front lines to victory. The combined Australian

and Canadian forces led the attack, which also involved the French and British armies. Setting out

from Villers-Bretonneux and Hamel, the Australian troops, in two hours, had accomplished all their

objectives, and the Canadian troops had advanced several kilometres. In just over three hours, the

enemy's front line had been overrun, a massive achievement in a war characterised by minute

gains at enormous cost.

In 2018, 100 years later, the Gardens of Peace project began, creating gardens in northern

France and Belgian cities. The Gardens of Peace is an invitation to reflect on a world marked by

economic, political, and ecological upheavals. Each town has chosen the nation their garden will

be affiliated with, and Amiens selected Australia. The Australian-Amiens Garden of Peace will be

located in the historical Citadelle d’Amiens.

Following the Garden's inauguration, there will be the dedication in Le Jardins des Plantes of the

Bridge of Friendship, a twin to the RAE Bailey Bridge of Friendship located in ANZAC Park,

Toowong in Brisbane, as a permanent memorial dedicated to French and Australian Engineer Units

involved in WW1.

Narelle Todman, Chantefique Director, will lead the choir on the trip. “We were honoured to

support Lieutenant Colonel George Hulse OAM in the dedication of the Toowong Bridge in 2022.

So, when the opportunity came to support him at the dedication of the twin bridge in Amiens, we

took up the opportunity to participate in this significant occasion,” said Narelle.

“To acknowledge this friendship between our countries, we will join and sing with Amiens’

Ensemble du Diapason, led by Flore Sagnier, for the Bridge dedication ceremony.

Then, on the 27th of April, the choir will spend the day at Villers-Bretonneux and present a 3:30

pm concert at the Sir John Monash Centre. We would love it if Australians travelling to Villers Bretonneux for Anzac Day could join us at our concert.”

“La Cathedrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens is the largest cathedral in France, twice the size of Notre Dame in Paris. We are very excited to have the opportunity to sing in the cathedral on Friday

afternoon. Singing in such a magnificent cathedral is a unique opportunity for us. In addition to

singing, we will take the time to visit the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, which has a plaque

dedicated to the Australian forces who served on the Western Front during WW1.”

Brisbane boasts a vibrant choral scene, and many members of Chantefique are also part of other

choral groups, so the choir is looking forward to both the concerts and the opportunity to rehearse

and sing with the Ensemble du Diapason. The choir arrives in Amiens on Sunday, 21 April. The

choir members are personally funding the trip, supported by their fundraising activities last year,

along with some assistance from Alliance Francaise de Brisbane and the French Consulate,

Brisbane.


Program

24th April

2:30 pm Inauguration of Australian – Amiens Garden of Dreams. The Citadel of

Amiens, 80080 Amiens, Rue des Français Libres, 80000 Amiens, Franc

3:30 pm Dedication of the Bridge of Friendship, Le Jardin des Plantes 60 Bd du Jardin

des Plantes, 80000 Amiens, France

27th April 3:30pm Concert – Sir John Monash Centre, Route de Villers Bretonneux,

80800 Fouilloy, Somme, France

Sir John Monash Centre

Commissioned in 2006, the Sir John Monash Centre is designed to educate a new audience

about Australia’s early role in international affairs and to share the stories of ordinary Australians

doing extraordinary things on the battlefields of the Western Front. The Centre is named after

General Sir John Monash, who led the Australian Corps with outstanding success on the Western

Front in 1918. His success in the famous victory at Le Hamel became a template for military

operations that followed. The Sir John Monash Centre establishes a lasting legacy from

Australia’s Centenary of Anzac 2014-2018.

Lieutenant Colonel George Hulse OAM is a retired Australian combat engineer who served in the

Vietnam War. He was part of the 1st Field Squadron and fought in the Battle of Coral-Balmoral,

one of the most dangerous and sustained battles of the Vietnam War. • George became the First

Field Squadron Group Association's President, also known as the ‘Tunnel Rats’. These were the

soldiers who entered into deeply dug underground tunnels and bunkers where they recovered

masses of enemy information, ammunition and other equipment vital to the enemy war effort.

George Hulse and his Association’s historians discovered that a group of Australian Sappers did

the same thing during World War One. The Sapper (a combat engineer) is the first soldier into a

dangerous situation and the last to leave. They facilitate crossing dangerous lands, defusing

difficult situations, and more while under life-threatening circumstances.

Alliance Francaise

Alliance Francaise is a Global network of 834 French Language and Cultural Centres in 131

countries worldwide. It is part of the French Government's cultural network:

Chantefique is supported by Alliance Française and is Brisbane's only French-singing choir. It

comprises people of all ages with varying abilities in French, united by their love of music and

affection for French culture

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