If there’s one thing a large section of the community has in common is a shared love of music and song.
And, what better way to bridge the gap between cultures and generations is to use music as the icebreaker.
Last weekend, July 20-22, more than 100 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people came together for the second Baraya-djukal, Garuwa-ga or Big Sing by the Sea at Holy Name School hall, Forster.
The weekend workshop was all about building bridges with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people through music and song, while at the same time learning about Worimi culture, co-organiser, Felicity Carter said.
A cultural cruise along Breckenridge Chanel to Pelican Island, on Wallis Lake aboard the Free Spirit kicked off the weekend with a talk from elders, Lyn Davis – who shared her stories about growing up in the area – and Steve Brereton, who gave an outline of the area’s Indigenous history.
Work on forming the choir began on Saturday, under the expertise of well-known and respected musician and composer, Rachel Hore OAM.
Rachel is known for organising the Big Sing in the Desert, a choral event near Alice Springs, and her singing workshops for groups, schools, festivals and community events throughout Australia and internationally.
She also has led numerous singing and cultural tours all over the world.
The choir was formed from workshop participants who had travelled from Port Macquarie, the Blue Mountains, Newcastle, Taree, Canberra and the Great Lakes for the Sunday concert.
The event culminated with a hour-long concert of music ranging from hymns to a variety of music genres, some penned by Rachel, along with a collection sung in the local language of Gathang.
Poems were recited by one of our Newcastle members, 13-year-old Luka Saunders from Taree thrilled the audience with her version of My Island Home, while two groups of cousins from Port Macquarie and Forster sang Pearly Shells, Felicity said.
“This began as a cultural event to showcase what we do in Forster and Tuncurry with a group of people who don’t know one another,” she said.
“We have built a new community.”
Felicity, along with fellow organisers Janice Paulson and Lyn Davis, said the success of the event was better than they could have ever hoped for.