NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Week has its origins in the 1920’s. It is now an annual celebration of history, culture and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders. The theme for NAIDOC Week 2016 was Songlines: the living narrative of our nation. So I felt it very fitting, and was honoured, to be invited to Government House by His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC Governor of New South Wales and his wife Mrs Linda Hurley to experience on of the highlight events of NAIDOC week, a performance by The Moorambilla Voices.
Founded in 2005 by Michelle Leonard, Moorambilla Voices has delivered life-changing learning, laughter and creativity to the young people from 78 schools across the remote area of North Western NSW. The programme is without a doubt changing the cultural landscape for many of these children between the ages of 8 and 18.
The performances were incredibly moving, inspiring and uplifting, involving some extremely talented young children from the remote areas of NSW. They were accompanied by the talented Song Company, Australia’s preeminent a cappella ensemble and their recently appointed Artistic Director Antony Pitts and the Australian World Orchestra.
We were treated to an extraordinary repertoire which included part of a five movement suite created about Naren Lakes for the 10th birthday celebration of Moorambilla Voices called 'You Took From the Land' by young female Australian composer Alice Chance.
The second piece Yana Yana was written by young Australian composer Andrew Howes and the final and very moving piece was one that has been performed in honour of one of Moorambilla Voices founding members Elizabeth Markey who passed away 6 years ago and it is of such great significance to the ensemble it has been performed at the conclusion of every Moorambilla concert.
This stunning performance was followed by afternoon tea in the magnificent gardens of Government House where we were treated to another exciting performance of Taiko drumming and dance by these talented young children.
The Moorambilla Voices programme has the capacity for huge impact on the lives of these children who might otherwise not have the opportunity to fulfil their own potential. A year ago I attended one of Moorambilla Voices annual concerts and met a very talented young man named Nathan Bryon who came from a town outside of Dubbo. He had an exceptional voice and I spoke with him after the concert and asked him what his dreams were for the future. He said he wanted more than anything to study at the Conservatorium of Music. I met up with Nathan again at Government House, and he vey proudly told me he was now studying at the Con and loving every minute.
This is the power of Moorambilla Voices.
The story of Moorambilla Voices (video)
You can read more about Moorambilla Voices and the multi -talented and dynamic Michelle Leonard here.
WIth thanks and gratitude to Noni Carroll Photography for use of these images.