As part of Arts Festival Dunedin The Dunedin Symphony Orchestra is performing a brand new oratorio by Anthony Ritchie called Gallipoli to the Somme, marking the centenary of the battle of the Somme. The oratorio is for soprano bass choir and orchestra and Anthony describes it as a quietly anti-war, a humanist statement about ordinary people’s experience of war with the senselessness and the tragedy. It’s based on the experiences of one of the soldiers of the Otago battalion, Alexander Aitken, who survived and went on to write a book of the same name.
The soprano is Anna Leese, winner of the Lexus Song Quest back in 2002 and in demand all over the globe. But she has a tragedy of her own, husband Stefano Guidi has been diagnosed with motor neuron disease. Charlotte Wilson talked to Anna about how this has affected their family, and the fundraising which has been set up to help Stefano.