A Kimberley story that speaks to everyone
After a three year journey of development, organization, fund raising and rehearsals, Jandamarra - Sing for the Country; Ngalanyba Muwayi.u was performed at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall on July 16, 17 and 18.
Ten dancers and singers from the Yilimbirri Ensemble and four actors from the Jandamarra stage play joined with an astounding array of choirs under the auspices of the Gondwana Choirs, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, to present a remarkable performance that brought tears to the eyes of the audience, and standing ovations.
Please find below some extracts from the reviews, a small selection of photographs, links to the full reviews and a YouTube clip from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
BCE. 4 August 2014
The performance by the Yilimbirri Ensemble, the combined Gondwana Choirs, soloists, actors and the Sydney Symphony, strongly co-ordinated by conductor Brett Weymark, was a triumph of collaboration.
Jandamarra - Sing for the Country is an impressive and important milestone in Australian classical music.
Actors Patsy Bedford and Margaret Mills were full of warmth, character and emotion. The moment when they came together as one and started the Dirrari lament for the fallen Jandamarra was deeply poignant . Emmanuel Brown was an excellent Jandamarra, here, there and everywhere - including the organ loft ... an enclave of Bunuba singers and musicians offer[ed] evocative vocal and percussive contributions.
Stanhope's dramatic, approachable score includes traditional music from the Kimberley to great effect, and the Yilimbirri singers made a powerful contribution to the performance.
Stanhope is blessed with the musical common touch - that rare ability to combine sophistication with accessibility and a gift for works that thrive on community involvement.
The libretto's mix of terse prose and mythic poetry poignantly evoked the stark clash of cultures.
The Gondwana choirs, under their long-time founding director, Lyn Williams, covered themselves with glory. From the exposed prelude, 'This Land is Full of Spirits', to the grand finale, 'This is Our Home', they sang with beauty, accuracy, clarity, and superb diction.
That the story and partnership answered a thirst was all too clear from the standing ovation at the end.
The audience's overwhelmingly positive response at the final performance, which I attended and which I understand was equalled at the two previous ones, should give us hope that this ambitious collaborative work will soon be heard again.
(Jane Dempster, courtesy Sydney Symphony Orchestra)
Emmanuel Brown as Jandamarra, dancing the Lirrga Wangga
Patsy Bedford as Jini, Mataika Wymarra-Gerrie as Young Jandamarra, Dominic Grimshaw as Lindsay, the Yilimbirri Singers and SSO Orchestra Members
Baritone Simon Lobelson, Peter Docker as Richardson, the Yilimbirri Dancers as the chain gang, and SSO Orchestra Members
Emmanuel Brown as Jandamarra and the Yilimbirri Dancers dancing Yalanggani Jaulja
The Gondwana Choirs and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
The work was dedicated to three much loved elders: Adam Andrews, the creator of the Yilimbirri Junba; Hazel Hawke, a patron of the SSO and mother of librettist Steve Hawke; and Molly Jalakbiya, the creator of the Dirrari Lament.