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First Nations Voices

First Nations Voices

Melbourne Recital Centre acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we sit – the people of the Kulin nation – and is honoured to be a platform for their stories and those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia.  

Earlier this month, Spinifex Gum became a part of a long tradition of celebration and music-making on the Centre’s site.  And through the rest of 2019, many more can’t miss Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians will be in the house.

Spinifex Gum

Spinifex Gum, a song cycle commissioned by Gondwana Choirs and written by Felix Riebl and Ollie McCall of The Cat Empire, brought a sold-out Elisabeth Murdoch Hall audience to its feet, following the final performance of its Australian tour.  The concert was a collection of musical snapshots of life in the Pilbara, north Western Australia, performed by the lush voices of the Marliya from Gondwana Choirs, young Indigenous women who sung in both English and Yindjibarndi, and were joined by special guest Emma Donovan.

Riebl spent several years visiting the Pilbara to build relationships and gather stories. He and McGill went on to write Spinifex Gum about the region’s local tales and characters, true stories of racism and injustice, and the legacies of colonisation with music production that’s staunchly modern, built from sound samples of the Pilbara – rustling leaves, bouncing basketballs and chugging trains.

And here are several other wonderful musicians you may want to put on your list for the rest of 2019.

Jessica Hitchcock

Jessica Hitchcock (Wednesday 25 September)
Jess Hitchcock is an award-winning singer, Indigenous performer and songwriter. Her charismatic stage presence and versatile performances draw on over 15 years of musical experience and have recently led her to tour with Kate Miller-Heidke and Mission Songs Project, while continuing her work at Short Black Opera as a collaborator and composer.

William Barton

William Barton (Thursday 28 November)
2019 Artist-in-Residence William Barton joins us for a talk and screening of Brendan Fletcher’s documentary Kalkadoon Man about William’s 10-day quest to make a didgeridoo using traditional methods passed down from his father, uncle and other members of the Kalkadunga nation. Navigating a contemporary world, whilst being dedicated to his traditional cultural values, this Musical Explorations event will provide a rare insight into the life of one of Australia’s most respected musicians.

Mojo Juju

Mojo Juju (Friday 29 November)
‘Mojo Juju is a killer vocalist, songwriter and musician, this we have known for years. But the skill to make a record of such disparate sounds come across so cohesively cannot be taught. Native Tongue works so brilliantly as a whole because it’s real. Mojo reaches deep on these songs and lays more of herself on the line than many others would have the guts to do.’ – DOUBLE J

Kimberly Echoes

Kimberly Echoes (Saturday 30 November)
Experience the beauty of Australia’s northern wilderness with its rugged ranges, dramatic gorges and breathtaking coastlines in the musical project, Kimberley Echoes. This is a powerful cross-cultural celebration created over years of musical collaboration and experiences across the Kimberley; with its landscapes and its people, brought to life by The Narlis ensemble. Curated by Tura New Music, The Narlis ensemble has evolved featuring Aboriginal artists Mark Atkins (didgeridoo/vocals) and Stephen Pigram (vocals/guitarist) with cellist Tristen Parr, violinist Erkki Veltheim, guitarist Stephen Magnusson, percussionist Joe Talia and flautist Tos Mahoney. Songs by Pigram and Atkins, arranged by this unique ensemble, are juxtaposed with new music reflecting the complexity and beauty of the Kimberley. Collaborations with local artists, experiences of traditional Joonba song and dance, and touring through the provocative Kimberley landscape have all weaved their influence into this work.

Melbourne Recital Centre is committed to increasing understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land, cultures, histories, and achievements which have brought us to where we are now, and we seek to inspire our artists and audiences through the sharing of these stories.