Reconciliation Choir helps University kick off NAIDOC week

July 16 / 184

The Reconciliation Choir rehearsal, led by Associate Professor Deborah Cheetham. Photo: Darrian Traynor
The Reconciliation Choir rehearsal, led by Associate Professor Deborah Cheetham. Photo: Darrian Traynor

Around 30 staff and student singers joined the University’s inaugural Reconciliation Choir, with a performance last Monday in Melba Hall to kick off this year’s NAIDOC week.

The choir was led by renowned opera singer and VCA & MCM Associate Dean (Indigenous) Deborah Cheetham, and featured Indigenous singer Shauntai Batzke as soloist, with VCA graduate and professional staff member Katie Clarke on flute.

The choir was launched during Reconciliation Week earlier this year, and after only two rehearsals performed Womin Jeka (Elements 2) by Associate Professor Cheetham and Indigenous composer James Henry. The choir sang the lyrics in the Woiwurrung language.

Wominjeka is the traditional Woiwurrung word of greeting and welcome to country, and the song is arranged as a call and response between the Creator Bundjil and the Wurundjeri people, who acknowledge their responsibilities to each other and their country.

"The notion of Reconcilliation could not be more fully realised than the moment when a choir of Indigenous and non Indigenous singers draw breath together in celebration of the longest continuing culture on the world,” Associate Professor Cheetham said, reflecting on the choir’s performance.

Choir member Gabrielle Murphy said the experience was uplifting and instructive, mostly due to the choir direction from Associate Professor Cheetham.

“She helped us understand more than just the music we were singing, but the tradition and history of the Wurundjeri people and their language. This is something our schooling never did.”

Learn more about NAIDOC week here.

Read more about the Reconciliation Choir on Pursuit here.

Story by Katherine Smith.

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