Chris Latham’s chamber opera about the women who served as nurses in WWI was inspired by his suffragette grandmother.

Every artist owes someone a debt for recognising their talent when it was only a seed within them, the encouragement often coming at a crucial moment; changing the direction of their life. For me, it came from my English grandmother, Beryl Churchill. In the 16 years our lives overlapped, we spent surprisingly little time together. In the days when international phone calls were impossibly expensive, I was given a minute to talk to her in England each Christmas. The remainder of the time was an exchange of letters and cassette tapes of my boyhood singing. When on an orchestra tour of the UK after my voice broke, I went to see her, distraught, not knowing what to do with my life. She answered without hesitation, “you will become a conductor”.

Her confidence in me propelled me forward as a violinist, an editor for composers, through a decade of directing festivals and now as a cultural diplomat creating work to mark the centenary of WWI. This project, entitled The Flowers of War, is designed to empower diplomatic and cultural links between...

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