Journey Home was commissioned by the Voices of Birralee especially for the Pemulwuy Male Voice Festival 2008, premièred by the Spooky Men’s Chorale.
On the night of the 31st May, 1942 three Japanese midget submarines made a daring wartime raid on Sydney Harbour. Two were discovered and eliminated before striking but the third sub M24 managed to fire two torpedoes. The first fizzled out and ran aground, however the second struck the Garden Island wall just below the HMAS Kuttabul, killing 19 Australians and two British navy personnel. The submarine then escaped out to sea, never to be seen again.
In November 2006 a team of weekend diving mates, the ‘No Frills Divers’ discovered the wreck in the dark waters 70 meters below the surface off the coast of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. They had been dreaming about finding the missing M24 for 25 years and together had solved one of the great Australian maritime mysteries. Not long after, a special service was held in the waters above the war grave where Sub Lieutenant Katsuhisa Ban and Petty Officer Mamoru Ashibe still remained. For their families, brothers and sisters from Japan, this was a long awaited chance to say their first goodbye.
This piece speaks of the journey home for these two officers, free after sixty years. As flowers are cast into the sea, the spirits of the men are set free. Along the way, the influence of nature and the elements play a part in a form of reflection, realisation and reconciliation. The journey ends upon one of the sacred mountains where they can leave the past and go into the next life. Grounded in the forms of Zen Buddhism, ‘Journey Home’ pays homage to the writing of Basho, one of the great Japanese Haiku poets.
This is a wonderful version by the superb Adelaide Festival Statesmen
Audio Sample from the world premier 2008, sung by the Spooky Men’s Chorale