Jenny Khafagi from the ACO Inspire Quartet told us about their experience at the annual Gondwana Camp.
The weekend spent at the annual Gondwana Camp was one of the most inspiring and moving experiences we’ve ever had. We had the chance to rehearse with the choir, compose meaningful pieces with them and both perform for and with the students.
Rehearsals were filled with contagious energy and impeccable musical skills as we worked through three pieces written for the choir. Lyn Williams (Director of the Gondwana Choirs) asked each member of the Quartet to work with a small group of choristers to create a composition based on a selection of quotes taken from Stan Grant’s speech on Racism and the Australian Dream. The students were insightful, emotional and open to discussion, and the afternoon’s memories will stay with us for a very long time. We performed our compositions for each other at the end of the session, and the overwhelming idea that ran throughout was that of reconciliation and recognition.
ACO Inspire Quartet with members of Cairns Gondwana Indigenous Children's Choir. Photo credit Lyn Williams.
The Camp continued with our performance for the choristers. Having spent the day getting to know each other the choristers were really comfortable asking questions about the music we were playing. They particularly liked the different birdcalls and sound effects we could produce using our instruments! Finally, furniture was cleared from the room and we were invited to learn some traditional (and some not so traditional) Torres Strait dances. The students were very helpful, but there was only so much they could do to help with our attempts- and it was amazing to watch them dance and sing while we struggled to remember the moves! Once back in Cairns, we performed the choir pieces we had rehearsed for family and friends.
Peter Clark with choristers in composition exercise. Photo credit Lyn Williams.
It was wonderful to meet everybody from the camp, and a huge inspiration for us to see their love of music shine through. We are very much looking forward to seeing them again later this year for the opening of a new performing arts centre in Cairns.
Jenny Khafagi (viola)