On 23rd September 1916, an ‘all khaki concert’ was held in the Brisbane Exhibition Hall to honour the work of the Y.M.C.A. in offering practical comfort to soldiers at the Front. State Library has recently digitised the illustrated concert programme, and it’s bibliographic record and searchable digital version can be viewed via our One Search catalogue.
A message from His Majesty King George V was reproduced in the programme: ‘The King congratulates the Association on the successful results of its War work, which has done everything conducive to the comfort and well-being of the armies, supplying the special and peculiar needs of men drawn from countries so different and so distant. It has worked in a practical, economical, and unostentatious manner, with consummate knowledge of those with whom it has to deal. At the same time the Association, by its spirit of discipline, has earned the respect and approbation of the Military Authorities.’ May 26th, 1916
The Hon. T.J. Ryan M.L.A., Premier of Queensland, having visited Australians on the West Front, stated that the troops were highly appreciative of the Y.M.C.A.’s work for their comfort. A London daily newspaper of the time characterised the ‘new religion’ of the Y.M.C.A. ‘a religion of limitless helpfulness.
The variety concert was performed by uniformed soldiers of the All Khaki Musical Society, with a vocal and instrumental musical programme ranging from dramatic recitals to sentimental ballads to an act of ventriloquism! Where required, performers were ably accompanied by Mr. Victor E. Gallway on the organ. The first half of the programme included Charles Marshall’s song I hear you calling me, made famous by Irish singer John McCormack, and sung by tenor Private Magnus J. Fisher. Also presented was a dramatic recital by Corporal Norman Campbell, of The Ballad of splendid silence, an 1886 poem by Edith Nesbit.
Featured in the second half of the programme was a euphonium solo of Ethelbert Nevin’s The Rosary, by Sergeant Frank Grose accompanied by Mr Galway. You can view this score online at the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library. Young boy soprano Master Ernie Warner also entertained the audience with his rendition of Boys of Australia by C. Robertson, a song ‘dedicated to our heroes staunch and true’.
The programme is filled with photographs of Australian troops at Y.M.C.A. facilities, both at home and abroad.
Robyn Hamilton, Queensland Music Coordinator, State Library of Queensland