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Across the Seas

One of the joys of living in a multicultural society is that we have the opportunity to become acquainted with many different cultural traditions. But have you thought much about how some of these traditions can morph and create different fusions as they travel into new contexts?

An exciting new concert, From Sea to Sea, featuring Arafura Music Collective and iconic Top End music group The Darwin Rondalla, takes you on a musical voyage to explore this idea, illuminating the way cultures travel and make connections between the old and the new along the way.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Rondalla tradition, it is a shining example of this very process.

“The Rondalla tradition started in Spain, travelled to South America through Spanish colonisation and then travelled from South America to the Philippines as the Spanish went there, and the Filipino people made it their very own,” says Arafura Music Collective Artistic Director, Claire Kilgariff.

Basically an ensemble of stringed instruments played with a plectrum or pick, Rondalla morphed into its own distinctive sound in the Philippines and even developed the acoustic design of the original European instruments.

Traversing the seas yet again to land on the shores of the Northern Territory, Rondalla found a new home in the vibrant 1930s Darwin music scene, revealing the way our Top End town has long been a cultural melting pot and gateway to Asia.

The concert also explores the movement and evolution of other cultural traditions and connections with a piece by local composer Cathy Applegate, ‘Flamenco’, celebrating Darwin-based musician Netanela Mizrahi’s connections to the musical traditions of Spain.

English composer Malcolm Arnold’s ‘Three Sea Shanties’, on the other hand, offers a quirky modern reworking of three traditional sea shanties for woodwind quintet, demonstrating how stories and songs from the sea can be transformed into innovative new musical works.

“It really plays with the idea of the sea being the transmitter of culture and the enabler of cultural interaction,” says Kilgariff.

Francis Diatschenko and Claire Kilgariff also explore interesting new intercultural connections by playing Japanese composer Michio Miyagi exquisite piece ‘Haru No Umi’ (The Sea in Spring). Composed in 1929 for koto, a Japanese zither instrument, and shakuhachi, traditional Japanese flute, the duo performs this evocative piece on guitar and baroque flute.

As you listen to the delicate, shimmering sounds of this beautiful piece, or to the other works in this wonderful program, you might find yourself transported across the seas, considering the way the ships that traverse the waves are also vessels for stories.

From Sea to Sea – Musical Journeys, Connections, Reinventions
WHEN SUN 21 NOV | 4.30PM DOORS, 5-6.15PM
COST $40 | $35 CONC | $10 YOUTH

Thumbnail & header: Paz Tassone.

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