Over 250 performers are making their way to Baradine and Coonamble in the far north-west of NSW. The sheer love of music – playing, performing and sharing it – drives the Moorambilla Festival as the final preparations take place. Nearly all the rooms in town are booked, even the caravan park is busy! Buses and cars are loaded with staging, programs, music, microphones, run sheets and music stands. Let’s just say that the four-day Festival brings with it many logistical challenges! Today the decision was made to move the DANDRY GORGE concert to BARADINE TOWN HALL due to wet weather. All in a day’s work for the operations team.
On the ground in Baradine, Artistic Director, Michelle Leonard, prepares for the arrival of all the musicians to rehearse and perform with the three Moorambilla Voices choirs. The Festival is the culmination of a skills tour of the region and three residential workshops, where the Voices children created music with composers Alice Chance and Andrew Howes, dance moves with artists Ghenoa Gela and Eric Avery, percussion with TaikOz, and workshops with visual artists Frank Wright, Fiona Fagan, Mary Kennedy and Barbara Stanley.
This artistic collaboration between professional and non-professional musicians makes Moorambilla a unique music festival.
“A lot of festivals have an art music focus, and we certainly also have that,” says Michelle. “At Moorambilla, all the touring artists coming to Baradine and Coonamble will also be met by exceptional music that has been created from the region itself. It’s a true expression of collaboration.”
After conversations with artistic directors of Australia’s premiere ensembles, Michelle invited three major professional ensembles to work with Moorambilla Voices this year. Japanese drumming ensemble TaikOz have already rehearsed with the children at residential workshops. The Sydney Symphony Fellows, and The Song Company are new to the mix this year, and are joined by long-time community choir in residence Leichhardt Espresso Chorus and the Hunter School of Performing Arts from Newcastle.
“These ensembles bring a real generosity of spirit to this environment. They are all here as outstanding and positive role models to the children and youth of Moorambilla Voices. Yes, they showcase their outstanding musical capacity in the concerts and performances, which we are all very much looking forward to. But they also see the benefit in sharing what they have to support young creative minds as well.”
The Song Company’s Artistic Director Roland Peelman says the closest he has come to a similar festival was a writer’s festival they toured to in Koonanurra in Western Australia about two years ago. “We were a loooooooong way away from almost anywhere and we were interacting with mainly local Aboriginal kids. The performance was outdoors and the setting was magic!”
“We have never performed before in Coonamble to my knowledge,” says Roland. “So we have no idea about any of challenges that we are about to face. But we have experience with tours. We have been stuck in the haze in Malaysia and had to be evacuated, we even once arrived in a Danish town for a concert with no audience (they hadn’t bothered telling anyone!!!), and we have dealt with people who called themselves ‘organisers’ on several tours – when concerts started 30 minutes late and only ever after A LOT of drama. I think we’ll be just fine.”
“We are bringing slightly unusual repertoire (for us a least), to this Festival and doing lots of small brackets and workshops. From here, it feels like a very grassroots festival, involving lots of kids. We hope to walk away with a few new songs learnt, new friends made and hope that with our contribution, we have left something behind as well.”
For more information go to http://www.moorambilla.com.
PLEASE NOTE: The Dandry Gorge Concert “Voices from the Gorge” has been moved to Baradine Town Hall due to wet weather.