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A Common Language

Darwin Symphony Orchestra has a long history of collaborating with First Nations artists and musicians, with a number of unforgettable performances in recent times highlighting the depth and the richness of Aboriginal culture.

This month, DSO ramps things up, with not one but two unmissable cross-cultural performances at this year’s Darwin Festival.

Kicking off festivities is the Santos Opening Night Concert, featuring the extraordinary extravaganza, Buŋgul. A ceremonial celebration of Gurrumul’s transcendent final album, Djarrimirri (Child of the Rainbow), Buŋgul is set to transform the Darwin Amphitheatre into a meeting place of dance, song and ritual. Become immersed in the Yolŋu song, dance and painting that inspired Gurrumul, alongside recordings of his inimitable voice, accompanied by a unique blend of Western-style music and his family’s musical traditions performed live.

Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Jon Tooby says it will be a moving experience.

“It’s one big journey depicting certain stories or songlines. You are just transported by it.”

Originally created on Country in North East Arnhem Land, the Top End performance has been in the works for years. It’s thrilling to finally have the chance to see it performed in the Territory with predominantly local musicians.

Ripple Effect BandIf that wasn’t enough musical innovation, DSO is hitting the stage again this month to perform the world-premiere of Barra-róddjiba as part of their Wavelengths concert.

A collaboration between the all-female Ripple Effect Band from Maningrida and emerging Australian composer Alex Turley, Barra-róddjiba tells the story of the baby Djomi spirits who saved Maningrida from Cyclone Monica in 2006.

Tooby explains that DSO’s ongoing commitment to sharing space with Aboriginal artists – also on display earlier in the year in a remarkable full-length program with First Nations artists at Barunga Festival – has awakened them more fully to the incredible culture that’s on our doorstep.

“This is about collaborating equally and finding a common sound and voice,” he adds.

“Music is a common language among all human beings. It’s a wonderful and safe place where people can get together and share ideas.”

The Wavelengths concert also sees the orchestra return to more traditional musical forms with a performance of Mozart’s joyful Sinfonia Concertante, before Tchaikovsky’s fiery Symphony No. 5 brings the evening to a dramatic close.

“It’s on the edge and feisty. It’s a real show-stopper,” says Tooby.

From DSO, we wouldn’t expect anything less!

Buŋgul //POSTPONED //

WHEN SAT 21 AUG | 7.30PM
COST $20-$60

Thumbnail and inset – Ripple Effect Band. Photo: Charlie Lee. 
Header – Photo: Tim Nicol

Due to the evolving situation around COVID-19, the Santos Opening Night Concert performance of Buŋgul has been postponed. For all the latest Darwin Festival program updates, click here.  

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