Stories and Music of the World at Home in Armidale

Published 09 October 2013

OoralaBefore the stories and histories were written down, knowledge was passed on through the oral narrative. Storytelling and music are forms of expression that transcend culture, nationality, time and geography. Next week, the New England will be given a rare opportunity to experience and take part in world conversations and world music at an event hosted by the Oorala Aboriginal Centre of the University of New England.

The two-day event on 16-17 October is part of a larger trans-institutional, multi-national collaboration to bring cultural perspectives, music and stories to people of all ages, nationalities and cultural backgrounds.

Interactive discussion sessions will take place throughout both days, beginning with a focus on cultural safety and cultural knowledge. Essentially, this will be a session about shared respect, knowledge, meaning, experience and learning. On the second day, presenters and participants will explore ‘innovative collaboration’, incorporating ideas such as inclusive practices, understanding governance and recognising cultural capital.

On the evening of Thursday 17 October, performing artists from around the world will take to the stage. The performances will be shared reflections through cultural expression, including music, song and storytelling. The evening will be an inclusive, intimate affair, and audience members will be able to meet the performers and take part in the storytelling sessions.

Among the performers is Johnnie Aseron, who is also organising the event. Johnnie is a First Nations performing artist and uses traditional instruments of North America along with story and song to share and explore ideas of culture and cultural perspective. He has also produced a number of documentary films and actively developed events for First Nations Peoples from around the world through the Stories and Songs of the People collaborative.

Also performing are The Deans, formerly known as The Grenadines. The Deans, a critically acclaimed original band, were nominated for the “Band of the Year” in the prestigious Deadly Awards in 2007. The Deans combine soul with cool rock influences to create urban songs about a future Australia. Singer/songwriter and guitarist, Linc Yow Yeh, is a Goreng Goreng man raised in Brisbane, but whose country is around Bundaberg and Rockhampton. Bass player Nick Larkins is a musical nomad from Tasmania and former member of Wild Pumpkins At Midnight.

Tibetan singer/songwriter Tenzin Choegyal will also be performing his music, which has been described as “beautifully evocative,” “healing,” “spine-tingling,” and “transcendent.” Tenzin’s cantering rhythms, soaring vocals and exquisite flute solos have enchanted audiences around the globe. He regularly tours internationally to the US, Japan, New Caledonia, India and New Zealand and has touched the lives of thousands of people with his music and his concern for his fellow human beings. Tenzin is the founder, organiser and creative force behind the Brisbane Festival of Tibet.

The appearance of musical performers of this calibre, in such an accessible setting and at no cost, is not to be missed.

Johnnie feels that the event will provide a unique opportunity for members of the New England community to explore cultural differences in an interactive and inclusive environment. “This is a chance for everyone to be involved in the world conversation,” Johnnie said.

Jacky Williams from UNE’s AgLaw Centre will be leading the interactive discussion sessions with Johnnie, and stresses that the aim of the event is to encourage shared conversation and diverse participation.

All are welcome and encouraged to attend any or all of the sessions and performances over the two days. Everything in the two-day agenda is free of charge. Those who would like to attend are kindly requested to rsvp for catering purposes to director-oorala@une.edu.au