Three notes of respect 

Alexandra Thomson has been playing clarinet for about 17 years, and is determined to get these three notes right. Photo by David Bell.

WITH no Dawn Service and no veteran’s march this Anzac Day, the RSL is encouraging commemorators to walk out  on their driveways at 5.55am to observe the day.

Musicians around the country are planning to play the Last Post, but Mt Hawthorn’s Coogee Street will be lucky enough hear it done by a musician trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Clarinet player Alexandra Thomson was in her final term of study in London when the coronavirus situation worsened. 

Her course is extremely tough to get into – only five people worldwide are admitted per year – and she was close to graduating in June.

“It’s a two-year masters degree and it’s three terms per year, so I got 5/6s of the way through before Covid really stuffed it all up,” she says. 

“My parents had planned to come over for graduation, and I had all this travel I was going to do. But that’s okay.”

When the Department of Foreign Affairs advised overseas Australians to return home, she bought a ticket the next day, packed everything in her London room into six boxes, and flew home to begin 14 days of quarantine. 

Ms Thomson, 28, has been continuing lessons online. Dates for her final recitals and exam aren’t set but they’ll likely be done via a livestream to London.

Anzac Days are usually pretty casual for the Thomson family: They’d normally go to a local bowls club. With those all closed Ms Thomsons’ dad Peter suggested a dawn driveway rendition of The Last Post. 

It doesn’t need too much adapting to be played on clarinet compared to a bugle or trumpet and most likely only her Royal Academy teachers could tell the difference.

“It only involves three notes, but I can’t stuff up those three,” Ms Thomson laughs. “I studied at the Royal Academy – I can’t come back and stuff up the The Last Post!”

Anzac Day online

ANZACS knew well the dangers of infectious disease, with the deadly Spanish Flu having all but scuppered the first post-war Anzac Day celebrations.  

Having lost 62,000 people across four years of war, another 15,000 Australians died from a flu pandemic the year after.

A parade planned in Sydney was cancelled, replaced by a commemorative service in The Domain where participants wore masks and stood three feet apart.

That’s no longer considered distant enough and this Anzac Day the Dawn Service has been cancelled, replaced by an online commemorative service. 

“Anzac Day happens every year and it will happen in 2020, albeit in different circumstances,” Australian War Memorial director Matt Anderson said in a media statement this week.

“Anzac Day is traditionally about acknowledging the resilience and fortitude demonstrated by

the Anzacs at Gallipoli and the subsequent legacy that was born. Across the community, peopleare drawing upon their own resources to deal with this global health crisis.”

“It is vital that we have the opportunity to take time to pause and reflect on Anzac Day, if not as some brief respite from the overwhelming nature of the pandemic, but because it’s what we do.”

Stories by DAVID BELL

One response to “Three notes of respect 

  1. Congratulations Alexandria, and proud parents, Peter and Jacque, What a wonderful gesture Sorry I don’t live in Coogee St. Tat

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