Wooroongi Biik


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In writing her 7th MPavilion composition, Deborah Cheetham felt the piece needed both points of difference, and of continuity.

“As a point of difference, I’ve recognised a year in which so many of our musicians have endured the threat of being silenced with a work for solo instrument. Without voice or text.”

‘Wooroongi Biik’ is written for solo viola. Of all the members of the string family, the viola resembles most closely the human voice, and so continuity of song is achieved. Its premiere performance will be given by Ngoogar violist Aaron Wyatt, the inaugural Director of Ensemble Dutala, Australia’s first Indigenous chamber ensemble.

“As we emerge from the chaos of 2020, it is important to recognise that we live on a continent with the longest continuing music practices in the world and that we continue to draw strength from the land into which the Boon Wurrung people have poured their knowledge and wisdom for more than 2000 generations. For this reason I have called the work ‘Wooroongi Biik’ (Strong Country), in recognition of the resilience of the Boon Wurrung and all First Nations people who have withstood the greatest existential threat of all—colonisation.”

This event was generously supported by the Indigenous Languages and Arts (ILA) program.