I Rod Christian, composer of the composition ULURU SUITE for ORCHESTRA and CHORUS, acknowledge the Anangu people, Traditional Custodians of this sacred land titled Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, their language Pitjantatjara and their culture and pay my respects to their Elders past and present.
In this composition, ULURU SUITE for Orchestra and Chorus, I have tried to encompass the early beginnings of ULURU through to the present day, the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, the bird and animal life there, the spiritual connections, the sometimes relentless harshness of the heat, the storms and remoteness of the area.
Above all, I have paid tribute to the beauty and the spirit of this sacred place where the Indigenous Anangu people traversed the song lines of their land and settled here some 20,000 years or more ago. The choral section relates this story and talks about the language, the legends and the meanings of the Anangu language.The orchestral prelude depicts the beginnings of time when Uluru was first formed, the sunrise, the bird life and the call of the spirits.
First conceived from early December 2014 as a choral work for SSA voices and piano.
In December 2016 I composed the Prelude to the choral work for full orchestra and the choral section. I used Logic X and East West Symphonic Orchestra and featured is Chelsea J Gibson on vocals. Joining her is Justin Freind Tenor and Perry Joyce, Bass. In 2018 I completed the Second Movement to this work. This is an Andante piece and represents Kata Tjuta, the National Park where Uluru is situated.
In 2019 I began work on the Finale which sums up the beauty and at the same time the harshness of this beautiful landscape, sacred to the Indigenous Anangu people of this area.
I am currently working with the Australian Government, Uluru Lands Council and the Elders of the Anangu to obtain permission to perform this work in the future.
Yvonne Antoine at work in Print Hall WA Newspaper House. circa 1936
Yvonne at age 98.Photo taken in 2016
This is a fascinating story about my parents, Ron and Yvonne Christian (nee Antoine) set during World War 2. They met in 1935 while both working at The West Australian Newspaper and the rest, as they say, is history.
I took mum (100 years old March 2018) to see the Print Hall and she showed me exactly where the pay window was and can remember everything very well. I decided five years ago to write my next big musical based on their story, which from that point in 1935 is so interesting.
I have been interviewing my mother in short sessions for the past 7 years, from 2012-2017. She is still very alert now at 102 years of age in 2020, and her memory is still okay. The musical “MATES” is now completed after eight years work. 18 original songs are featured in this musical set during WWII, 1939-1945.
Yvonne Antoine in the VAD Uniform 1941
Captain Ron Christian WX3093 M.C.and Bar 2/16 Battalion
Military Cross Citation
Mum was a pay clerk at the West Australian Newspaper office at 125 St Georges Terrace. Dad was lining up for his pay in Print Hall (which has recently been restored to its original condition).
I took mum (who turned100 years old March 2018) to see the Print Hall and she showed me exactly where the pay window was and can remember everything very well. I decided seven years ago to write my next big musical based on their story, which from that point in 1935 is so interesting.
Mum joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment (Dalkeith) in about 1935/1937.
Dad proposed to Mum at the Embassy Ballroom in William Street Perth in 1939 just as WW2 was declared.This is a scene from the musical where the action is down at the Embassy Ballroom in William St Perth WA.
This is the song “Saturday Night.” The Embassy Ballroom is packed with people who are out for a good time trying to forget about the impending war ahead. Ron, Yvonne and Bret Langridge are there along with their friends enjoying the music and dancing. There are three girls out front of a big dance band and they are singing the song.
Dad’s best mate, Bret Langridge, was also keen on mum.
Dad and Bret joined the 2/16th Battalion when war broke out and went to train at Northam Army Barracks. They were subsequently sent to Syria in the Middle East in 1941.
In 1941 Mum was was one of those from her VAD detachment who volunteered for service in the Middle East. She was attached to the 7th AGH and travelled on the Queen Mary. She was later also attached to the 6th AGH.
Dad heard she was there and came down from the battlefields to the makeshift hospital where mum was stationed. They spent their “day off” together in Palestine. Bret Langridge was also there.
It was then they began planning a wedding, and Dad was keen to have it at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Dad’s Battalion was then brought home by Curtin to defend Australia. He went to Queensland where he trained with the 2/16 Batallion for New Guinea.
Mum stayed in the Middle East until February 1943 when her detachment returned to Perth. Dad returned briefly from New Guinea where he had been an integral part of the Kokoda Campaign as a Captain of the 7th Division 2/16 Battalion. He won his first Military Cross for bravery at Isurava/Abuwari when he helped plan the attack on Shaggy Ridge north of Kokoda and defeated a Japanese advancing party “with only the remnants of his platoon.”
“BRIGADE HILL on Kokoda” c. Rod Christian 2017.
This is the music that accompanies the scene in the musical.
Bret Langridge was killed at Kokoda – he and Dad had been close friends. They both became Captains and both contributed a lot to the successes of the campaign.
Bret had intimated to mum that if anything ever happened to Dad, he would look after Mum.
The irony is that Bret was killed in new Guinea and dad never got over it.
WHY SO YOUNG” copyright Rod Christian 2016
This is a song featured in my new WW2 musical, “MATES!” based on my parents’ life experiences during WW2. The song is about a father longing for his son, Bret Langridge to return from war. He has been called to duty on the Kokoda Track in New Guinea in the 2/16th Battalion. The father is writing a letter to Bret asking the question “Why So Young”- my only son! Bret is sitting on his stretcher bed and replies to his father’s letter. Bret’s sister Joan also joins in the song. The trio captures a moment in the musical where we question whether Bret will indeed make it home.
This is a video extract of the song which featured in a recent showcase of MATES.
Bret is killed in action on Kokoda the very next day! The REQUIEM scene in the musical is where he is formally buried in Port Moresby New Guinea.
I have set “THE ODE” by Laurence Binyon to a SATB chorale.
This is from Scene 12 in Act 2. Vocalist Perry Joyce.
When the Kokoda Campaign had finished, he returned home briefly to Perth where he married mum at Star Of The Sea Church in Cottesloe on 26 February 1943. See AWM website reference here: AWM website.
This is the wedding song my father sings to my mother at the wedding ceremony. It is titled “Another Chapter, Another Page.” The artists on the recording are West Australian vocalists Louise Anton Miller and Perry Joyce.
She had brought Egyptian lace home from the Middle East, and her boss at WAN got last-minute permission from the Minister for the Army to be married out of uniform. This story was carried by the West Australian Newspaper and she had many offers from dressmakers to make her wedding dress in time for her wedding.
After the gruelling Kokoda Campaign, the Battalion was sent to Borneo to further stop the Japanese at Balikpapan, and Dad won his second Militay Cross for bravery.
Mum went back to work and transferred to the commercial staff as Secretary to the CO of Hollywood Hospital.
This is a very telling story about my parents’ early lives together. Recently the family came across some actual footage of the events at Kokoda on an ATN Channel 7 film made back in the 50s. Dad is actually interviewed on this programme which I have restored to DVD. It is a fascinating account from various people who served in the Middle East and in New Guinea. Please view this here. We Were Anzacs 1956.
Please also see photos taken by Yvonne Antoine in the Middle East on the AWM website.
Flashback Rock ‘n Roll Showband was formed in 1988 with fellow musician and friend Peter Waterman. Peter and Rod were already discussing writing a musical Cruisin’ at this stage of their respective teaching careers. This became a reality in 1995 with the first production at the Dolphin Theatre University of Western Australia. The band Flashback was very popular as a corporate band and provided backing for much of the development of Cruisin’ the Musical in the early stages. Regular appearances at the Parmelia Hotel Christmas shows and New Years Eve were highlights of the band’s success.Members of the band: Rod Christian Lead Guitar/Vocals, Peter Waterman Lead Vocals/Guitar, Trevor Cooksley (dec.) Piano/Keyboards/Vocals, Paul Millard Saxes/Flute, Norman Buchanan Drums/Vocals.
I am now officially a member of the Perth band Purple Haze. The band is becoming very popular with our new mix of Rock’n Roll, Latin, Swing, Rockabilly and Country songs. The collective experience of all of the members includes Blue Brass, Rock’n Roll Show, Motivation, Tony Tyler and the Purple Haze to name a few. Tight harmonies and an extensive repertoire are features of this exciting band. The band leader is Nigel Ridgway (Vocals and Drums),Greg (Bazz) Clarke, (Vocals, Sax and Trumpet), Robbie Jones (Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars) and Rod Christian (Vocals, Bass, Guitar and Keyboards). Purple Haze perform regularly at the Kingsley Tavern and various dance clubs and venues around the city and country. Bookings Nige 0419921131 or Rod 0411441044. See and hear the band here:
The Sorrentones are an all male group of students from Sacred Heart College in Sorrento, Western Australia. This is an arrangement I did of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen and was performed at the Rejoyce Choir Concert in may 2011 at the Callaway Auditorium, University of WA.
The In Pulse at St Pats Dance Fremantle 1967. Top photo L-R Dave Sears Rhythm Guitar, Bob hawker bass, Rod Christian Lead Guitar and Ian Love Drums. On the MTT Ferry Zephyr doing a river cruise to Point Walter.
Which bands did you play in, and when?
I started drumming in a band called Four of a Kind while still at school in Year 11 at Trinity College in East Perth in 1965. We used to play a lot of dances and university functions in the old Barrack St Jetty Rowing Club and all of the school socials. It was that year I started to teach myself guitar and (on guitar) formed the Jeff Phillips Fan Club band with Jeff Phillips. We regularly played at his fan club dances in South Perth.
When I left school at the end of 1966, I formed a band called The In-Pulse with Peter Waterman, Bob Hawker, Ian Love (of Cocos fame) and Dave Sears. (See photo above)
This was a great band with harmonies and lots of work around the Perth scene. A regular gig was St Pat’s dance every Sunday night in Fremantle, plus dances and cabarets around town including The Italian Club in North Perth. We also played the Swan Hotel Circuit including the Booragoon, Manning, North Perth, Hamilton Hill, Osbourne park and many more.
We often did river cruises to Point Walter on a Saturday night and supported bands at nightclubs in Perth. I played lead guitar along with Nigel Ridgway, Jon Burns, Ron Burns and Brian Ward in The Blue Brass at the Nanking restaurant in Belmont from 1968. We backed many international artists including The Platters, The Sitopal Sisters, Four Kinsmen, and Martin St James etc. This is where I learned to read music (basically by ear) and also to play bass guitar, as we used to swap instruments to keep the music going. It was a lot of fun working with Peter Harries, Kelly Green, Ian de Souza (now a prominent Fremantle artist) and Elaine Mort, amongst other local musicians.
In 1969 I left The Blue Brass and formed The Motivation with Russ Kennedy, Nigel Ridgway (then Maurie Pearson), Peter Waterman and John Quilty. In this band I played lead guitar and keyboards. We played the Swan Hotel circuit in Perth and many nightclubs including Top Hat, Ricki Tik, Two Eyes, The Colosseum and more. In 1971 I joined Triax at the Morley Hotel as bass player.
We played four nights a week and then we got the job as resident band at Contacio International in Scarborough. Here, Peter Harries and Kelly Green were the floor show artists and in 1973 Peter started his own nightclub, The Knight Klub in Como, where I joined him as musical director for the next nine years. I am still performing with Kelly today (see photo at the end of this blog.)
I still play in five different bands today including The Haze Showband, Powerhouse and the original In-Pulse which works under the name Cruisin’ Rock ‘n Roll Showband with three of us original members still in the band!
What got you into rock and roll?
When I was seven years old, I lived in Claremont and the radio was always on. We listened to tunes like ‘Build Your Love on a Strong Foundation’, ‘The Battle of New Orleans’, ‘Tammy and Witch Doctor’. I absolutely LOVED these songs and could sing them back perfectly. The next-door neighbours were girls in their late teens and they were dating American sailors visiting Perth. The sailors brought 45 records over from the US and gave them to the girls who used to play them full bore on the stereo next door. My brother Bret and sisters Julie and Jan and I used to dance on the lawn. When I heard the sax solo in ‘Purple People Eater’ that was it! I had to play or be involved in music from that point on. We had an old piano and I could soon bang out the melodies of all these songs. From there I joined the junior choir at Trinity College and then the Senior Choir, then the ‘Four Of A Kind’ band and the rest is …
Is there a gig that really stands out in your memory?
There were many, particularly backing famous people. In the early days I was playing bass in the main backing band for Telethon with Ed Peters and Guy Bart and we used to back people like John Farnham, Cleo Lane, Johnny O’Keefe and Little Patti. It was all live to air, so exhilarating and at the same time frightening.
I remember being support band to Gary Pucket and the Union Gap and to the Deltones. A memorable gig was backing Harry Secombe at Perth Concert Hall and Warren Williams, Johnny Young, and Ray Brown in subsequent gigs. I also went to many great gigs including Peter Frampton, Doctor Hook, Boz Scaggs, Paul McCartney, and, more recently conducted a season of my own musical Cruisin at the Regal Theatre in Perth as Musical Director, with Glenn Shorrock in the lead role. I also write heaps of choral music. A memorable occasion was back in 2002 when 9000 people heard a world premiere of a song I composed called ‘Anthem for Unity for Australia’ at the Perth Entertainment Centre.
What was guaranteed to get audiences off their seats and dancing?
Rock and roll of course! The simplicity, the harmonies, the great string arrangements, the backup vocals all combined to make this a unique genre. I have a very broad taste in music but you can’t beat good old rock and roll. I particularly like the backbeat and the tempo of jive music.
Kelly Green in full flight and Dennis Bird on drums at the Royal Thai Restaurant 2016
This is Pure Magic the resident band at the Royal Thai Restaurant in Mt Hawthorn. The band is vocalist Kelly Green, drummer Dennis Bird and keys/vocals Rod Christian. Peter Harries was the owner/ host and we performed there from 2012 -2016. The band played every style of music and accompanied guest artists every week. Watch a selection of our band numbers here: