Sony Music has announced that it is bringing its ‘mature’ label Masterworks to Australia, inaugurating its arrival with the release of Remembrance, a 24-track recording of poetry and music dedicated to the soldiers of World War One. The new album will be helmed by Sydney radio personality Alan Jones.

“At Sony Music Australia, we strive to be market leaders in all genres of music. The launch of Masterworks as a domestic A&R label is part of our strategic plan to deliver more quality projects suitable for the discerning consumers in the adult contemporary, crossover and soundtrack music market,” Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Denis Handlin said.

Released in the lead up to ANZAC Day, Remembrance marks the recording debut of 29-year old Melbourne baritone Nathan Lay. Winner of the 2016 Australian International Opera Award Scholarship, Lay has performed extensively with the country’s leading opera companies. Also included on the compilation disc is Russell Morris, who contributes new track White Feather – the royalties of which will go to veterans’ not-for-profit Soldier On – alongside new recordings from Damien Leith, Lee Kernaghan, Col Buchanan and Sara Storer. The final recording of late Australian icon Jon English and a new version of The Last Post performed by acclaimed trumpeter James Morrison round out the album’s musical offerings.

Rather more controversial will be the decision to have Remembrance ‘anchored’ by poetry read by shock jock Jones, whose recent forays into the Australian art scene have inevitably attracted divisive comment. In recent years, his appearances in the musical Annie, and his withdrawal from Opera Australia’s Anything Goes (for which he cited “professional commitments”) drew widespread criticism from those questioning his politics as well as his lack of theatre credentials or experience. Jones’ involvement in these productions were largely  viewed as stunt casting meant to drum up publicity.

On his appearance as FDR in Annie in 2011, Crikey summed up the general feeling surrounding Jones’ involvement in musical theatre: “It’s a clever promotional gimmick of questionable necessity and merit (AJ can’t contrive an accent, but at least has a stab at carrying a tune) that cheats decent professional actors out of a worthwhile role. Still, if it keeps Jones from plying his usual trade in ratbaggery, it’s got to be a good thing.”

Sony’s Masterworks label has a 90-year history, beginning life as Columbia Masterworks back in 1927, and has been a vehicle for composers like Copland and Stravinsky, who conducted their own works for the label, as well as conductors like Bernstein, Ormandy and Szell, and pianists such as Walter Gieseking and Glenn Gould.