The Young Wägilak Group headed to Monash

From September 12 to 14, the traditional song men from Ngukurr – the Young Wägilak Group (YWG) – will be undertaking a Monash University, Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music residency and performance.

The culmination of the three days of workshops will be a stirring performance ofCrossing Roper Bar, an inspired exploration of indigenous music traditions by the Australian Art Orchestra (AAO), accompanied by the Young Wägilak Group (YWG), who are also staging a free outdoor lunch-time concert.

Bringing together the ancient and the contemporary, this special collaboration,Crossing Roper Bar, hinders on an equal exchange of knowledge focussing on traditional music, dance, visual image and storytelling. This association has been strengthened since 2005, when the Young Wägilak Group from Ngukurr in Arnhem Land and the Australian Art Orchestra (based in Melbourne) began regular exchanges and visits.

Demonstrating the power of music to bridge cultures, time and space, Crossing Roper Bar celebrates country, ceremony and the coming together of communities. Through their performances, Young Wägilak Group have allowed people unfamiliar with their culture the opportunity to understand their heritage. They’ve also demonstrated a way forward for young people hoping to engage with the rituals and wisdom of the living Elders and their ancestors.

The Wägilak Gujarra/Nyilapidgi (stone spear group) are leaders in the performance of Wägilak manikay (song cycles) and dance. The manikay of the Wägilak-speaking Yolŋu people belong to the oldest continuously practiced culture on Earth.

Audiences are invited to immerse themselves in the manikay through Crossing Roper Bar, an alluring world of sound, image and language, which tells the journey of the mythical being Djuwalparra, in part represented by the song cycle.

As honoured guests at the renowned Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music for three days of special live music events and student workshops, the YWG will share their traditions via a free live concert at Monash Clayton on Wednesday September 12 at 12:30pm.

Crossing Roper Bar has received numerous awards, including 2011 Australian Jazz Bell Awards: Best Jazz Ensemble, 2010 Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, 2010 H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship – Australia National University: in recognition of groundbreaking work.

The Crossing Roper Bar collaboration will be performed in London and Paris this November.

Monash University Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Head of School, Robert Burke said ‘an important element of the vision of the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music is to create and develop the 21st century musician and to give students as many opportunities as possible. This includes making the students aware of the indigenous culture of Australia. The Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music has been an international leader in ethnomusicology and the project Crossing Roper Bar – Australian Art Orchestra and Young Wägliak Group is a demonstration of this.’

‘The students’ involvement will include three days of workshops and performances where they will learn about the significance of the many key elements of indigenous music making, and significance of story telling through song. The involvement of the Australian Art Orchestra is an example of cross-pollination of music and cultures; an example of music making of the 21 century.’
Event Details

Young Wägilak Group – Free Concert
12pm Wednesday 12 September
Under the gum trees, Monash University Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music

Crossing Roper Bar
Australian Art Orchestra with Young Wägilak Group and Monash Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music students
8pm Friday 14th September
Alexander Theatre, Monash University, Clayton
$25 Full / $20 Student/Concession
Call 03 9905 1111