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The Art Of Music

  • Writer's picturePhillip Anderson

The Grey Gladiator

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

This week marks the 82nd Anniversary of the loss of HMAS SYDNEY II off the West Australian coast during WWII. I composed ‘The Grey Gladiator’ to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of that tragic loss. The thematic material was chosen to reflect the great sense of loss felt by the Australian population on hearing the news. The melodic material and the imagery associated with its performance at that memorial service was very much associated with naval service (band and drums, bugles, fanfare trumpets), all of which were used during the performance of this march at the Cenotaph, Martin Place on 19 November 1991.

The march commences with the bugle call ‘Grog’ before moving forward in the swaggering style of the jovial Jack Tar. The baseline solo in the second phrase is developed around ‘Heart of Oak’ which, up until 1990, was the Official March of the Royal Australian Navy. The Trio is introduced by the bugle call ‘Saluting Guns Crew’ and the boatswain call ‘Pipe the Side’, with the main melodic material based around Sydney’s motto ‘Thorough and Ready’. Excerpts of ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ can be heard throughout the Trio. Here are the words I couched for the trio:

Men of the Sydney, we’re proud of your heritage. Young men of Australia’s Navy all at sea. Thorough and Ready, your motto stands you in pride. Go forth with your country’s blessing to victory.

On the 82nd Anniversary of her loss, we salute all the men of SYDNEY who lost their lives in the service of our nation.

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