Aboriginal Music Day - Deepening Histories of Place Project - ANU
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Aboriginal Music Day

Music Day

Our Music, Performing Place, Listening to Sydney will be be held on 30 June 2012. It is a premier event of Aboriginal storytelling and musical exploration, hosted by the Sydney Conservatorium, The University of Sydney and The Australia National University.

This day-long event is an opportunity for both established and emerging Aboriginal musicians who call Sydney home to come together to perform and discuss their works at the Sydney Conservatorium.

Organisers, musician and PhD candidate Kevin Hunt and PhD History candidate Julia Torpey, explain that the day provides a time and place for musicians to share and discover the motivations and inspiration that informs their music. It is also a chance for audiences to sample a small selection of local Sydney talent as it is emerging in schools and homes.

The special day is jointly sponsored by the Sydney Conservatorium and the innovative history research project Deepening Histories of Place: Exploring Indigenous Landscapes of National and International Significance, led by Professor Ann McGrath Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at The Australian National University, with Professor Peter Read of The University of Sydney.

For Julia Torpey, co-organiser of the event and a doctoral researcher with the project, ‘Our Music is a day of exploration, connecting people, place, and Aboriginal history through music and story. The performances will shift between contemporary, historical and traditional, linking past and present, and will express personal, cultural and social identities with place.’

As well as performing their own original compositions, contemporary Aboriginal musicians and Sydney Songmen will join Kevin Hunt to perform three historic chants dating back to 1793, offering their own take on historic manuscripts transcribed by European explorers.

The historic compositions include: Barrabul-la A Song of the Natives of New South Wales; Chant, songs collected by the French Baudin and Péron scientific expedition to Australia in Sydney during 1802 and set to music by Pierre-Francis Bernier (1799-1803); and Harry’s Song published in the Journal of excursion across the Blue Mountains  (1822), originally performed by Bennelong’s brother in-law, Harry, to Barron Field.  Bennelong’s letter of 1796 will also be set to music.

As Kevin Hunt explains, ‘Aboriginal cultures have developed and survived in the Sydney region for at least 25 000 years. So much is achieved in understanding culture and history by listening. Music plays a vital role in this communication.’

Our Music, Performing Place, Listening to Sydney will also host visiting artists from the Menindee School, Menindee, NSW, to present their ‘painted piano’ in song and dance. A highlight of this performance will be the ‘painted piano’; the Stuart and Sons piano playing canvas to artworks created by Menindee school students. As Paakanjti Elder Kayleen Kirwin explains, creating the artworks for the piano ‘are giving [the students] a connection back to country’.

Artists performing on the day include Songmen Matt Doyle, Richard Green and Clarance Slockee; Eora Colle and Conservatorium Jazz Ensemble; Matt Fergo; Menindee School; the Stuart & Son’s ‘Painted Piano’; Karen Smith; Jacinta Tobin; Devina Captain; Chris Sainsbury; Peter McKenzie; Charles Trindall; Marlene Cummins; Sandra Spalding; Jimmi Hand’s Yellomundi Band and Kevin Hunt.

Our Music, Performing Place, Listening to Sydney is a free event, registration is required: con.rsvp@sydney.edu.au


Matthew Doyle
Matthew  Doyle is a well known Didgeridoo player, dancer, musician and cultural educator. He is a descendant of the Muruwari /Dharawal nations NSW. Matthew performs in pre-schools, primary and high schools, and at local and major events here and abroad. He has worked and collaborated with some of Australia’s finest musicians including Sydney Symphony and Queensland Orchestras, James Morrison, Taikoz, and dance companies.  Major events he has performed in include the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies, World Youth Day performance for the Pope, and the World Masters Games, Sydney.  He has also appeared on top of the Sydney Opera House for the ABC’S Millennium Broadcast. Matthew’s group regularly perform at many International corporate events in Sydney as well as many well known events like the Sydney Festival,  and State of Origin. More recently he performed for Prince William on his visit to Sydney, and continues to perform for the City of Sydney including the 2011 Lord Mayors NYE Party.
Chris Sainsbury
Christopher Sainsbury was born in the regional town of Gosford, on the Central Coast of NSW. He continues to live there today, and considers himself to be a regionalist composer; drawing upon his local sounds and stories for inspiration and finding meaning and joy in ongoing local narratives. Sainsbury’s music is strong of will, lyrical of gesture and positive in affect. He studied at the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education with the older generation Australian master James Penberthy, and also with Richard Mills, and received the College medal upon graduation in 1986. In recent years he has gone back to study and is near complete a PhD in composition at the Conservatorium in Sydney.Sainsbury’s recent music includes much new music for classical guitar, for choir, and for orchestra. His orchestral work First Light was awarded winner of the New England Philharmonic Orchestra’s Scores Competition in Boston USA, in 2010. Sainsbury is a Darug man, and has long been engaged in community affairs, especially in music and education. He enjoys teaching at Eora College in Sydney, and considers it a joy to be working with the great diversity of Aboriginal musicians and other students there.
Eora College
The Eora College is a campus of Sydney Institute of TAFE , specialising mainly in visual and performing arts training for Aboriginal people. It is based in Chippendale, and was established in the 1980’s. Eora staff are focussed on the delivery of quality training, and as a result students compete well with any student from any institution in the visual and performing arts in Australia. For instance, every year our theatre students put on four plays, including at least one Shakespeare play and one contemporary Aboriginal play.Eora graduates and current students make a valuable contribution to the profile of Aboriginal visual and performing arts in Sydney, and throughout Australia. Many of our graduates have forged careers in theatre, music, film and TV, and in the visual arts. For this event we are happy to profile our music students, both current and graduates.
Jacinta Tobin
Jacinta Tobin has a Master of Social Ecology and has worked in the Aboriginal Community for over 15years. She has worked to raise the issues of the Child protection; environmental destruction and the Darug people’s history. Since 1999 to 2004 Jacinta lectured at University of Western Sydney and has worked in all levels of Education using music and her community worker background to educate children and adults on Darug culture and life. Her expertise ranges from script writing, song and musical composing in English and Darug Language as well as local Darug stories and knowledge. In the past she was Chair person of the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation. She was the President of Gunnar (Aboriginal Educational Consultative Group) for the upper Blue Mountains. In 2009 Jacinta was given the official honor to be called Aunty or Elder from “The Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation”Jacinta is a script writer and musical composer for “The Yarramundi Kids” puppet and animation show for NITV’s which was the first indigenous commissioned children’s program premiered in 2010. Jacinta received the “UNSUNG HERO” NAIDOC award in 2010. Jacinta is a member of the World Heritage Indigenous Network since 2002 as well as being a Project Officer for the “Darug Peoples Advisory Committee” for the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water in 2011. Jacinta has a strong connection and unbroken women’s line to her traditional lands of Darug People language group and takes comfort in the Blue Mountains where she resides.
Richard Green
Richard Green is an International award winning actor/writer/musician (2007 Boxing Day). He has appeared in 30 Australian productions including for example Two Out, Praise, Jewboy, Boxing Day, The Confessions of Alexanda Pearce, Snowtown, The First Australians and The Colony. Richard is a regular on ABC and SBS networks, and can be regularly heard as Dr Greenthum on 93.7 Gadigal Radio. Richard has a diploma in Film and Television and an Advanced double diploma in Music.  He is currently appearing in the productions The Convict and Redfern Now and studying for his diploma in Education at The University of Sydney’s Koori Centre.
Charlie Trindall
Charlie Trindall has been termed one of NSW’s most prolific indigenous singer songwriters. A descendant of the Gamilaroi people of North Western NSW, Charlie began playing music in his early teens and has achieved some of his musical dreams by releasing several independent EPs and two albums as well as being included on various compilation albums and having his songs rerecorded by other Indigenous musicians.Charlie started playing as a teenager and admits he wasn’t very good at sport and was later diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. His Mum recognised this and bought him his first guitar as she knew he liked music. He loved to write poems and listen to the radio and liked to listen to the lyrics of artist such as Bob Marley, Rodriguez, John Lennon and later the likes of Paul Kelly, Archie Roach and Kev Carmody, and admits the social influences were his biggest attraction. Asked about how ideas etc come about, Charlie said ‘I get an idea or an issue to write about in my head and toss it around for a while but this could be minutes, days, weeks or even months depending on how much I am inspired or moved at the time, the words start to flow and some kind of beat or tune and usually it flows from there’.
Sandra Spalding
Sandra Spalding is an Australian Indigenous woman born in Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales and was raised in a family of Musicians. Sandra is an Australian Aboriginal Soul, Gospel, Blues, Funk, Rock, Jazz, Rhythm, and Alternative Musical artist, and has been in the music industry for over 20 years and is recognised on The Gold Coast, Queensland. Sandra has lived on The Gold Coast, in Melbourne and Sydney, and has gained musical inspirations on her travels. Sandra is a recording music artist, making solo recordings and collaborations. Sandra’s passion for music includes song writing, singing and playing the guitar. Sandra is currently studying her Diploma of Music at Eora College. Her future goals include to travel, tour and to continue to make more music. Sandra’s music inspirations are Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Mo-Town artists.
Karen Smith
My name is Karen Smith and I am a proud Darug woman from the Boorooberongal clan of the Derrubin area. I’ve been asked to say something about myself. There have been many highlights in my performance life in the areas of singing, teaching, directing and producing: bands, choirs, festivals, concerts, multimedia shows and touring. I now work at the Aboriginal Heritage Office in Northbridge as an Education Officer. I wrote and compiled the multi- media production Walking Country to tell the story of the Darug people through the bloodline of our ancestors. The lives of the generations of our ancestors at Boongurabee (Blacktown) and the Derrubbin (Hawkesbury) are woven with the first stories of the impact of colonial life and successive Government policies. In Walking CountryI have compiled the stories of many Darug people. This is a Darug story and an important story for all Australians.
Peter McKenzie
I am an Aboriginal person born in the historic Sydney Aboriginal community of La Perouse. My music is a proud extension of my Aboriginality, and as such, my songs resonate with the Aboriginal history of my city which is exclusively bound by the Eora language area. As a singer song writer in urban Aboriginal Sydney, I will be presenting several of my original songs which relate to my Sydney urban Aboriginal experience. My music, however, mostly relates to historical aspects of Sydney.
Devina Captain and Mary Daniels
Davina Captain was born in Townsville, originates from Murray Island (Mer) Island, and was raised in Far North Queensland. She has worked in various ATSI agencies, from assistant clerk, to Aboriginal Liaison Officer and Program Manager for 3KND Melbourne. She has an Associate Diploma in Small Companies Community Theatre and has performed with Black Pearls and Outblack (Melbourne and Sydney).  Devina believes that today’s event is a highlight of Sydney Indigenous Music, and hopes that events like this are more frequent; showing Sydney Indigenous music has A VOICE, is being seen and is here. Devina will perform with Mary Daniels, ‘Journey through the Torres Strait (From Past and Present)’.  Using a sample of musical genres, their performance will move the audience from the past to the present, highlighting how changing music has influenced Torres Strait Islanders community and culture.Mary Daniels was born on Thursday Island, descended on her Father’s side from the Iema, Tudulaig; and on her Mother’s side from Aboriginal Butjula (Gubbi Cuddi / Cuddi Kuddi), from Maryborough, Fraser Island, Eroubian and Meriam Island.  Mary has a love of arts and culture, and has studied at Eora College in the past. She currently completing a Certificate Three in Music and continues to promote her art and culture through different mediums.
Marlene Cummins
Marlene was born in the southwest town of Cunnamulla in Queensland on the 23rd of January 1954. Her family lived on the Aboriginal fringe camp as Aboriginal people were not treated as citizens until 1968.  Marlene says her traditional homelands are Laura up Cape York way on her Fathers (Guguyelandji) side, and Keppel Island (Woppaburra) on her Mothers side.  Marlene was raised with a very political ‘grassroots’ upbringing as her Father Darcy Cummins was a pioneer in fighting racial injustice and just like her Father she likes to use music as a medium to make the world a better place to live in. Marlene knows the Blues from an Aboriginal perspective in this country as a child and later in life became a member of the first and only Australian Black Panther Party. She’s had many dealings with authorities due to an outspoken stance on political issues committed against Aboriginal people.
Vic Simms
Vic Simms is a Bidjigal man from la Perouse, New South Wales.  He is a singer and song writer from La Perouse, and began his career at 12 years of age at the Manly Jazzorama Music Festival in 1957. He released his first single as Vicki Simms, “Yo-Yo Heart” (Festival Records) at 15 years of age. Whilst in Bathurst Gaol he learnt how to play guitar and started writing songs. In 1973 his music was heard by a Robin Hood Foundation and they sent a tape to RCA who organised to have him record an album. This album was recorded in one hour with a mobile studio in the prison dining room and was released as ‘The Loner’. It has been described as “Australia’s great lost classic album of black protest music”.Vic has re-entered the entertainment industry. He has toured Australian prisons and in 1990 he toured Canada with Roger Knox and Bobby McLeod, playing in prisons and on reservations. In 1996 he released a covers album ‘From the Heart’. Vic was given a Deadly in 2001 for Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal Music, and in 2009 his album, ‘The Loner’, was added to the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia registry. Simms sang “Stranger in My Country”, in both the SBS documentary and accompanying CD, Buried Country: The Story of Aboriginal Country Music.
Matt Ferguson and Kobie Duncan
Matt is an Aboriginal man from Casino. Who has extensive knowledge on how pokies machines works in Australia and has helped allot of community who were addicted to playing online pokies games. If you thinking what is pokies is have a look at this pokies website. He will be performing a selection of his own work, fusing his own compositions with the lyrics of Gamilaroi boy Kobie Duncan. Matt is a studying at Eora College, working towards a career in the music industry.
Clarence Slockee
Clarence Slockee is an Aboriginal man from the Mindjingbal clan of the Bundjalung tribe situated on the far north coast of New South Wales, Australia. Having graduated from the National Aboriginal & Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) Dance College, Clarence has gained experience across a broad range of performance mediums. He is an accomplished musician and dancer with a passion for all forms of traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and dance with extensive involvement in many contemporary Indigenous dance productions both nationally and internationally. With a broad range of experience he has also performed for a number of VIPs’ including the Governor of NSW, President of USA, Prince William and Pope Benedict XVI.
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