The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) has partnered with the Australian Football League (AFL) in a unique musical tribute, the ‘AFL Club Anthem Project’ to celebrate the return of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
During the COVID-19 lockdown period, MSO musicians came together to record a refrain of their beloved football club’s classic anthem on their centuries-old instruments.
Many of the traditional club songs date back further than the AFL itself, with the oldest –Brisbane’s use of the French revolutionary anthem La Marseillaise from 1792 and Geelong’s use of The Toreador Song from composer George Bizet’s famous opera Carmen, written in 1875. Two of the AFL’s powerhouse clubs use classic tunes from the great American songbook; Collingwood’s Goodbye Dolly Gray from 1897 and Richmond’s Row, Row, Row from 1912.
In more recent years the AFL has introduced modern anthems such as last years’ crowd favourite There’s a Big, Big Sound for the GSW GIANTS, which reached popularity in the lead up to the 2019 Toyota AFL Grand Final.
MSO Conductor Benjamin Northey said that music and footy have always been the best of mates, with a love for providing world-class entertainment at the forefront of both organisations.
“You would be amazed how many musicians and staff in the MSO are passionate footy fans,” said Maestro Northey.
“These 'socially-distanced' MSO versions were a lot of fun to record while also speaking to the time we are all going through. We love seeing our team celebrate with a rousing rendition of the club song after a game. Just like the AFL, we can’t wait to get back to doing what we do best for the people of Melbourne again when it's safe for crowds to return,’’ said Maestro Northey.
General Manager of Growth, Digital, and Audiences Darren Birch said the partnership with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra shows how important the club anthem is to its fans.
“The club anthem is a part of football’s rich history and tradition. Every player and fan, from the elite competition to the grassroots game embraces the club anthem with pride.
“Seeing fans within the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra don their club apparel and get into the football spirit in the ‘The AFL Club Anthem Project’ is just another reason why we love to celebrate the football community. A combination of fine arts and football – both are about as iconic ‘Melbourne’ as you can get.”
The AFL and MSO are excited to collaborate in this uplifting cross-cultural online project where music and football unite.
Watch the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s AFL Club Anthem Project via MSO (mso.com.au) and on facebook.com/AFL
About the AFL Club Anthem Project (supplied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
- Adelaide Crows: The Pride of South Australia by Bill Sanders in 1994 based on US Marines Hymn dating back to 1878. Performed by Jack Schiller (bassoon) and Rachael Tobin (cello).
- Brisbane Lions: The Pride of Brisbane Town by Bill Stephen in 1997 based on La Marseillaise from 1792. Performed by Dale Barltrop (violin).
- Carlton: We are the Navy Blues by Ernie Walton in 1930 based on Lily of Laguna from 1898. Performed by Mary Allison (violin) and Tiffany Cheng (violin).
- Collingwood: Good Old Collingwood Forever by Tom Nelson in 1906 based on Goodbye Dolly Gray from 1897. Performed by Antony Chataway (viola).
- Essendon: See the Bombers Fly Up is based on Johnny Hamp’s Keep Your Sunny Side Up written in 1929. Performed by Michelle Wood (cello).
- Fremantle: Freo Way To Go by Ken Walther in 1995 and based on Song of the Volga Boatmen from 1866. Performed by Tim Buzbee (tuba) and Jessica Buzbee (trombone).
- Geelong Cats: We Are Geelong by John K Watts in 1963 and based on The Toreador Song from 1875. Performed by Robert Macindoe (violin).
- Gold Coast SUNS: We Are the Suns of the Gold Coast Sky written by Rosco Elliott in 2010. Performed by Rachel Shaw (French horn).
- GWS GIANTS: There’s A Big Big Sound written by Harry Angus in 2012. Performed by Owen Morris (trumpet).
- Hawthorn: The Mighty Fighting Hawks by Chic Lander in 1956 based on The Yankee Doodle Boy from 1904. Performed by Rob Cossom (percussion).
- Melbourne: It’s a Grand Old Flag by George M Cohen & Keith Bluey Truscott in 1912, based on You’re A Grand Old Flag from 1906. Performed by Benjamin Hanlon (double bass).
- North Melbourne: Join in the Chorus by Sir Harry Lauder in the 1920s, based on the traditional Scottish song Wee Deoch an Doris. Performed by Nico Fleury (French horn).
- Port Adelaide Power: to Win by Quentin Fyers and Les Kaczmarek in 1997. Performed by Sophie Rowell (violin).
- Richmond: We’re from Tiger Land by Jack Malcomson in 1962, based on Row, Row, Row from 1912. Performed by Ben Northey (conductor), Sophie Rowell (violin), Damien Eckersley (double bass) and Lauren Brigden (viola).
- St Kilda: When the Saints Go Marching In based on the original of the same name from 1923. Performed by Rohan De Korte (cello) and Wendy Clarke (flute).
- Sydney Swans: The Red and the White by Larry Spokes in 1961, based on Notre Dame Victory March from 1928. Performed by Sophie Rowell (violin), Damien Eckersley (double bass) and Lauren Brigden (viola).
- West Coast Eagles: We’re Flying High by Kevin Peek and Ken Walther from 1987. Performed by Abbey Edlin (French horn) and Richard Shirley (trombone).
- Western Bulldogs: Sons of the West from the 1940s based on Sons of the Sea from 1897. Performed by Thomas Hutchinson (oboe) and Elise Millman (bassoon).