Queensland Symphony Orchestra performs state’s AFL anthems

They are the anthems that stir the hearts of our sporting warriors and their fearless followers, the musical call to arms instantly recognised by the faithful – the anthems of our teams.

Prepare to have the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention because the mighty Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO) have released their incredible rendition of both the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS anthems.

The Brisbane Lions anthem is, of course, a rendition of the Marseillaise (French National anthem). Legend has it that Bill Stephen, a Fitzroy footballer back in the ‘50s was looking for an anthem for the Fitzroy team. At around the same time, he’d gone to see Casablanca and was inspired by the scene where the French sing the Marseillaise to drown out a Nazi song. He figured it was a great tune for a footy club and on a train trip back from Perth, he and some mates wrote the lyrics for Fitzroy. They’ve since adjusted it for the Brisbane Lions, but the tune remained.

Meanwhile, the Gold Coast SUNS theme song was born when inaugural Chairman John Witheriff and club leaders were sharing Chinese takeaway and a few beers at the Wooli Surf Club in 2010. The group were listening to songs, trying to agree on one they liked. They came across Rosco Elliott’s theme song, and the trumpet fanfares immediately won them over. They got so into it, by the end of the night, they were singing along with it and the locals in the bar were singing along as well. The rest, as they say, is history.

The epic collaboration is to mark the Round 16 QClash game on Wednesday September 9, when the two Queensland teams play at the famous ‘Gabba (home to this year’s AFL Grand Final of course!).

Filmed and edited over a few days, the orchestral anthems feature 21 musicians from QSO, standing proudly on the Kangaroo Point Cliffs overlooking Brisbane and looking down to the Gold Coast. The Orchestra commissioned the new arrangement, which was recorded under the baton of emerging conductor Stefanie Smith.

It’s the first time that QSO has performed an AFL anthem.

Queensland Symphony Orchestra Chief Executive Craig Whitehead said music and sport belonged together.

One of the bright things to emerge from 2020 has been seeing Queensland become the home of the AFL. Even though the AFL is a sport, there is also a long-standing musical tradition built into the game. As any red-blooded AFL team supporter knows, there is no more exhilarating moment than roaring out your team’s anthem to celebrate victory, he said.

“As Queensland’s largest musical team, we wanted to celebrate this musical connection – and cheer our on our two Queensland teams, the Gold Coast SUNS and the Brisbane Lions – by performing a rousing rendition of each team’s anthem, especially arranged for the glory and splendour of orchestral instruments.”

“Working with skilled arranger, Nicholas Buc, who has created orchestral arrangements for iconic Australian musicians from Tina Arena to Birds of Tokyo, we have unveiled two brand new renditions of the anthems. We hope people all over Queensland enjoy, and share the joy – Queensland is good to go!”

During this lockdown period, QSO has cheered Queenslanders everywhere with a variety of music videos created all across Brisbane. In musicians’ homes, backyards, parks and playgrounds, the Orchestra has played a variety of music from Bach to Baby Shark, all in their own inimitable ‘Queensland style’.

Brisbane Lions Anthem

Gold Coast SUNS Anthem

Peter J Snee

Peter is a British born creative, working in the live entertainment industry. He holds an honours degree in Performing Arts and has over 12 years combined work experience in producing, directing and managing artistic programs & events. Peter has traversed the UK, Europe and Australia pursuing his interest in theatre. He is inspired by great stories and passionately driven by pursuing opportunities to tell them.

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