Back by popular demand The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir Live on Stage

The-Central-Australian-Aboriginal-Women’s-ChoirHailing from the very heart of Australia, The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir have announced performances at QPAC, Brisbane; Sydney Opera House, as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations; and three performances in Melbourne – Hamer Hall, Brunswick Ballroom and Carols by Candlelight, this December.

In an extraordinary meeting of cultures, the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir (CAAWC) performs German hymns and other sacred music in the traditional Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara languages. Some of these songs were taught and translated into local language by German missionaries more than a century ago.

Their signature works reveal a peerless Australian musical confluence of Baroque and Romantic era choral arrangements, centuries-old Sacred hymns, locked and carried through time in ancient Aboriginal languages. Their performances provide a rare insight into a vital but unknown aspect of Aboriginal culture in the Central Desert.

The story is one of the cultural robustness of women and represents an unheralded aspect of contemporary Australian Indigenous musicianship. It is a testament to the resilience of Indigenous women in the Central Desert as they preserve and strengthen their identity, languages and culture through song.

The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir contains 25 core members. The women (and 4 men) come from six remote communities within a thousand-kilometre radius throughout central Australia – Hermannsburg, Areyonga, Titjikala, Mutitjulu, Docker River, and Alice Springs.

The choir was formed as an amalgamation of various individual community choirs, including the renowned choirs from Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Areyonga and Ernabella. Morris Stuart AM, the choir’s charismatic Artistic Director and Conductor, is the person who is responsible for bringing Central Australia’s sacred sounds to the world.

“I am deeply proud of this choir, when I started out, little did I know that my work and this choir would become the stuff of legend in Central Australia and the subject of both a documentary and an ABCTV episode of Australian Story,” said Morris Stuart AM.

“There is something about music, especially singing, choral singing, which is powerful, transformative, therapeutic, that brings people together. The choir’s greatest achievement so far has been a 12,000km trip to Germany to share some of the 53 hymns that German missionaries translated into local languages in the 19th century.”

“The songs had all but vanished from use in Germany but had been preserved in the Central Australian desert for 140 years. The preserved German hymns are like an outback secret,” said Morris.

“It is always a privilege to collaborate with the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir and with Morris Stuart AM, who I have known for many years now through our collaborations and love of supporting our Indigenous communities,” said Producer Andrew Kay AM.

“It is a strong and special association, and it is most exciting to be bringing the choir back to perform with four performances in three states.”

The Central Australian Women’s Choir is proudly featured in the ABC’s current brand campaign for the celebration of the broadcasters 90th year. Focused on connecting Australians, the creative content showcases and highlights the different communities the ABC engages with across its services. Four hundred individuals feature at the heart of the campaign.

Led by renowned Choir Director Morris Stuart AM, ninety choir singers including members of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir perform on Arrernte Country singing a stirring rendition of I Am Australian with lyrics in Pitjantjatjara language.

The words were translated by Caroline Windy and Robert Borgias, with 90 singers performing at Simpsons Gap on Arrernte Country, including singers from the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir. This unique choral performance will inform and educate audiences, providing a rare insight into a vital but unknown aspect of Aboriginal culture in the Central Desert.

“Nowhere is this echoing of past voices into the present more evident than in the work of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir.” – Metro Magazine

The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir
Concert Hall – QPAC, Cultural Precinct, South Bank
Performance: Sunday 11 December 2022

Concert Hall – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point
Performance: Thursday 15 December 2022

Hamer Hall – Arts Centre Melbourne, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 17 December 2022

Brunswick Ballroom, 314 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Performance: Monday 19 December 2022

Carols by Candlelight – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne
Performance: Saturday 24 December 2022

Image: The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir – courtesy of Desert Song Festival