Gondwana Choirs’ relationship with Rio Tinto celebrates extraordinary success as it enters its sixth year. Throughout this time, Rio Tinto has been the Principal Partner of the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir and its ongoing support has enabled the program to grow and thrive, providing extraordinary opportunities for young Indigenous people throughout Australia.
Central to this program is the preservation and sharing of language and story, through song. As connections with local elders, cultural custodians and community leaders builds in the regions of our choirs, we see a growing trust and willingness to share with the choir, and recognise their potential as advocates and future leaders. The choir members share the belief that their most valued responsibility as members of the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir, is to share their culture through their performances.
In 2017, this included several transformational projects for the young Indigenous singers, centred around the invitation to collaborate with the Vienna Boys Choir, marking an achievement of artistic excellence and acknowledgement for the choir. This led to their tour to Europe in May – for most it was their first overseas trip – where they also collaborated with students at the European School in Frankfurt, and Carmina Slovenica in Maribor.
This project culminated in high profile performances at the Sydney Opera House and Cairns Convention Centre to capacity audiences. The project featured many works in language, including new works commissioned and premièred, and demonstrated the compelling performance style, artistry and unique sound that the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir have developed.
September 2017 marked an historic moment as members of the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir and Sydney Children’s Choir were the first to sing the Australian Anthem in the ACT’s local Ngunawal language. The very moving performance resonated through the Great Hall of Parliament House for the Minerals Council of Australia Parliamentary dinner, and was also proudly supported by Rio Tinto. The translation was created in consultation with local language custodian Tyronne Bell and linguist Dr Doug Marmion, and performed to 500 guests including the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and politicians and business leaders from across the country.
Gondwana Choirs is proud to have such a strong team leading our Indigenous Children’s Choir programs around the country, offering a musical program that strives for excellence and also offers extensive performance opportunities. These experiences offered at no charge to our choristers would not be possible without Rio Tinto’s ongoing commitment to Gondwana Choirs. The support enables Gondwana Choirs to plan more exciting projects for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Joanne Farrell, Managing Director of Rio Tinto Australia writes,
“Rio Tinto is very proud of our long association as Principal Partner of the Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir. The Choir’s work in supporting the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth through the delivery of their national programs is truly inspiring.
The Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir is playing a pivotal role in nurturing the undeniable passion and talent Indigenous youth have for the performing arts. The Choir’s programs create a real pathway for Indigenous boys and girls to enter careers within the performing arts, assist in the preservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and further supports Australia’s drive towards reconciliation.”