Forster has hosted the first weekend singing workshop, Big Sing by the Sea.

It was a coming together of cultures and bridging gaps through the power of voice when more than 60 people attended a weekend singing workshop, Baraya-djukal Garuwa-ga or Big Sing by the Sea earlier this month.

Held at Holy Name Primary School, Forster the workshop was led by singer and choir leader Rachel Hore who conducts singing workshops for groups, schools, festivals, and community events throughout Australia and internationally.

Passionate about the role of singing in creating community and bridging cultural differences, Rachel organises the Big Sing in the Desert, a choral event for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal singers near Alice Springs.

She has led numerous singing and cultural tours all over the world.

Many people arrived on the first day of the workshop  as apprehensive individuals and left the following day feeling energised and excited, having become part of a new singing community brimming with potential and keen to repeat the experience.

Worimi Elder Auntie Janice Paulson said:  “It was really great to see black and white people singing in harmony and a joy to see how Rachel brought everyone’s voices together.

“It was inspiring and so easy to learn from her.”

During the workshop experienced choristers and complete novices were taught special songs, some in four part harmony and in the Worimi language, Gathang.

They also gained knowledge of how important singing was to Aboriginal culture, as well as gaining a much deeper understanding of the pain of loss of language, country and being part of the stolen generation by listening to Elders share their stories.

Kaye Lewis Driver said: “There was definitely a lot more going on this weekend than just singing.”

Well-known Worimi Gumbaynggirr Elder Auntie Lyn Davis said: “There was something special in the room – a spiritual connection that touched everyone and brought us closer together – we became one community.

“And when I was singing, with Rachel with the clapping sticks, I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.”

The event was organised and funded by Great Lakes Neighbourhood Services, as part of the Cultural Connection program supporting Better Learning, Better Communities. 

Four Great Lakes choirs were represented as well as a healthy contingent of people who just like to sing. 

Rachel Hore says: “Big Sing workshops aim to provide a place where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal singers can meet, share songs and culture.

“Baraya-djukal Garuwa-ga, The Big Sing by the Sea was both joyful and moving.  As a facilitator I feel very blessed to have met the Worimi elders from the Forster-Tuncurry area who bravely stepped in to learn this new way of choral singing, and share story and language with us.  

“I look forward to supporting this great new event in the future.”  

Having made this inspiring connection with Rachel, we are keen to perpetuate the event in July 2018, and to send some of our Elders to “Big Sing in the Desert” in April 2018 so that they can experience the musical traditions of Aboriginal desert culture.

If you would like to make a donation to enable them to get there, please call Trish Wallace at Great Lakes Neighbourhood Services or Felicity Carter on 0411 566 593.

Should you be interested in supporting Better Learning, Better Communities (BLBC) as a volunteer tutor or mentor, Lee Townsend, Co-ordinator for BLBC would be delighted to hear from you on 6591 7616.

If you would like to be part of a new Aboriginal choir, contact Auntie Lyn or Auntie Janice through Great Lakes Neighbourhood Services!

For further information on “Big Sing in the Desert”, please see the following link