Crossing Roper Bar

WORLD PREMIERE 
Garma Music Festival, Gulkula NT, August 2006

Upcoming
MONA FOMA Hobart Tasmania January 15-18 2015

CREATIVE TEAM
Musical Director, piano 
Paul Grabowsky

Bilma, vocals 
Daniel Wilfred

Yidakki 
David Wilfred

Reeds
Tony Hicks

Guitar
Stephen Magnusson

Violin
Erkki Veltheim

Bass
Philip Rex

Drums
Niko Schauble

Electronics/trumpet
Peter Knight


AWARDS

2011
- Australian Jazz Bell Awards: Best Jazz Ensemble – Australian Art Orchestra/Young Wagilak Group

2010
- Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award – Group Award
- H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship – Australia National University: recognition of groundbreaking work

2009
- Classical Music Awards: Outstanding Contribution to Australian Music in a Regional Area


RECORDINGS
- Crossing Roper Bar Volume 2 - The Ghost Dances, released 27 May, 2014

- Crossing Roper Bar Volume 1, cited as best release for 2011 by the New York City Jazz Record


RESEARCH
Conversing tradition thesis by Samuel Curkpatrick. Download




Concept

Crossing Roper Bar is a visionary exploration of the musical traditions of Australia’s first people by the Australian Art Orchestra in collaboration with the Young Wagilak Group. The Wagilak speaking songmen of South East Arnhem Land are custodians of one of the oldest continuously practised cultures on Earth. Their songs are performed regularly in Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Groote Eylandt and surrounding areas where the Wagilak are admired for their strong culture.

The Australian Art Orchestra began collaborating with the Young Wagilak Group in 2005. Based on an equal exchange of knowledge that began as a dialogue centred on music, Crossing Roper Bar developed into a process of collaborative composition that retains the beauty and dynamism of both traditions. The Young Wagilak Group have worked closely with the AAO to create a contemporary interpretation of ‘Wild Blackfella’, a song cycle which traces the journey of the ancestor through his country as he calls up and names things.

An electrifying marriage of the very old with the very new, Crossing Roper Bar is a celebration of country, of ceremony, and of the power of music to build enduring bridges across cultures, time and space.

TOURING HISTORY

2014 

- National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Bennetts Lane, Melbourne CD launch; Garma Festival; Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts Symposium, Hong Kong

2013
- Tour from Darwin to Perth produced by TURA New Music October 2014. Darwin, Kunnunurra, Broome, Karratha, Exmouth, Perth

2012
- European tour: Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; Southbank Centre, London Jazz Festival; Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Homerton College, Cambridge, UK
- Workshops and performances at Monash School of Music, Victoria
- Signal Point Art Gallery, Goolwa, South Australia

2010
- Australian Performing Arts Market, Adelaide
- Opening of ‘Colour Country: Art From the Roper River’ Exhibition, Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, Darwin Entertainment Centre
- Ngukurr, South East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory
- Llewelyn Hall, Australian National University, Canberra

2009
- Apollo Bay Music Festival, Apollo Bay, Victoria
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
- Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre

2008
- Top End Tour, Tura New Music: Darwin, Katherine, Timber Creek, Kununurra, Warmun, Fitzroy Crossing, Broome, Lombadina, One Arm Point, Beagle Bay, Perth

2007
- Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

2006
- Garma Music Festival, Gulkula, Northern Territory


"The western instruments often use hypnotic modal figures while the indigenous singing is awash with throaty overtones and fluttering harmonics that are like electronica freed from the rigidity of fixed keys and pre-set loops. Furthermore the bilma – clapstick – has a percussive sharpness that progressive dance music producers would die for"

- Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise Magazine