Earlier this year, Gondwana Choirs Artistic Director Lyn Williams, Artistic Operations Manager Sam Allchurch and Guest Artist and Composer Felix Riebl visited the Western Pilbara with the aim of establishing relationships with artists, teachers and students in the area as Gondwana Choirs recently commissioned Felix to write a song cycle based upon the stories and wonderfully rich art heritage of the region. During this first visit, Lyn held her inspiring workshops in schools across the Karratha and Roeburne region. Lyn, Felix and Sam were made to feel at home with the incredible artists at Yinjaa-Barni Arts Centre, and in particular, the wonderful painter Allery Sandy.
In September this year, Lyn, Felix and Sam returned to the area with Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir – 36 choristers from Cairns and Kununarra and 7 young singers from the Karratha/Roeburne district – who rehearsed every day culminating in a performance at the Red Earth Arts Festival in Karratha on 24 September. Prior to that, on Saturday 19 September, two shopping centre appearances in Karratha by GICC helped to generate interest in the visit and the concert. One of the most fulfilling parts of the tour was the interaction with GICC and Gondwana Artistic Staff with the local community, especially renewing the ties with the community at Yinjaa-Barni Arts Centre and watching Allery at work. Another highlight for our choristers was attending the Aboriginal Church in the Pilbara and joining in the singing during the service. Other non-musical activities included a visit to Cossack, Point Samson and Hearson’s Cove and Rio Tinto’s impressive iron ore loading facility in the region.
Concurrently Lyn formed Songfest, an ensemble comprising of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous local school students, some of whom took part in workshops earlier in the year. During the week of regular after school rehearsals, the young singers taking part in Songfest were exposed to Gondwana’s high standard of teaching, understood the need for regular rehearsals, improved their musical skills, and performed alongside our talented singers in GICC at the Red Arts Festival. The performance at the Red Earth Arts Festival performance took place on Thursday in the magnificent outdoor surrounds of the Ngurin Pilbara Aboriginal Centre. Repertoire included a range of Gondwana songs and a new song composed by Felix, with text contributions from choristers. The local children and their families were clearly thrilled by the experience of participating in the concert.
Thanks to artistic staff Sani Townson (Tour Manager), Nicole Thomson (Assistant Conductor) and Jem Harding (Pianist) for their wonderful contribution, as well as our supervisors.
Special thanks to Rio Tinto for making this tour possible and for their ongoing support as Principal Partner of Gondwana Indigenous Children’s Choir.
Gondwana Choirs gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the following donors who have made the commissioning of Felix Riebl’s new work possible:
Helen & Matthew Allchurch
Jane & Richard Freudenstein
Scott & Rachel Hadfield
Elizabeth & Bob Johnston
Suzie & Jason Lee
The Shaw Family
Ray Wilson OAM
Angus Woods and Giving Back to Gondwana