The 11km walk will take place on Sunday March 28 and explore Melbourne’s Yarra Bend.
For the first time ever, Melbourne’s iconic multicultural music organisation The Boite is hosting an 11km walk through the magical parklands of the Yarra Bend this weekend to raise money for the diverse array of music concerts and projects the institution is known for.
No ordinary walk, this half-day musical adventure, led by Colombian singer singer-songwriter Iaki Vallejo and percussionist Peter Vadiveloo, will incorporate singing and percussion workshops along the route. The walk’s co-coordinator Merren Ricketson tells us that the project has been in the making since August last year.
“We had this idea of discovery coming around a corner,” she says. “We just thought about the link between health and singing, and all that research about how oxytocin’s released when a choir sings together. We wanted to insert these musical pitstops, so at one spot, you’ll learn a song and hopefully we’ll sing it together and go off singing. And then at the next workshop it’ll be body percussion. And then at the final workshop, you’ll be putting those together.”
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The walk is an opportunity to not only raise money for the amazing number of music initiatives that The Boite will be showcasing and developing in 2021, but to also take pleasure in the power of singing, music, country and community here in Melbourne’s northern parklands.
“What underlines all this of course is the land that we’ll be walking on,” Ricketson continues. “It’s quite a varied walk. We found these fabulous stops along the way: Studley Park, Bellbird Park and Fairfield Park, they’re just treasures of the area, those elements, the natural world, music, being together and also walking.”
Engaging with, and intimately appreciating the land, environment and Indigenous history and storytelling embedded in the trail is another aspect of the walk.
Walkers will be encouraged to make their own zine on the walk, using the supplied coloured pencils and fineliners along the track to record special moments, sightings and pieces of knowledge.
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Ricketson speaks to the presence that The Boite has had in the Australian music landscape over the years, even during lockdown last year. The number of musicians from around the globe spanning every genre who are asked to be part of specific programs and concerts at The Boite grows more and more every year.
“To think that we had 54 online performances last year, which 450 artists and technicians were involved in. When lockdown started, they all lost their gigs, but no, through The Boite program, they were adapted, not cancelled. That creates a pretty good feeling, I think, with musicians, knowing that it’s the support of them that’s paramount to the organisation.”
When asked how it is that The Boite connects with such a wide range of musical artists, Ricketson reflects that beyond direct contact with community organisations, “it’s also word of mouth. Now with social media, people who are looking for things, can go onto the site and see the sort of music (that The Boite promotes) that way.
“And really it was Roger King (former CEO of The Boite) and Therese Virtue and their relationships with musicians — they both ran choirs, Roger was in a fabulous Georgian choir.”
“We had this amazing Russian man who gave us Beatles songs because they were forbidden at a certain time in the Soviet Union — this was his passion,” Ricketson says of one of her unforgettable experiences with The Boite. “He had 300 people in the Daylesford Town Hall, singing Beatles songs, telling us about how this used to be underground for him.
“People gravitate towards each other, musicians love jamming together. They would go to the Canberra Folk Festival, or Port Fairy Folk Festival and that would mean a whole lot more people would know about The Boite.”
Ricketson is optimistic 2021 will mark the first of many walks, with more and more people signing up every day and feeling passionate about the cause.
“If people get the diamond idea at the heart of this project, it will be a wonderful, wonderful day. You know, it’s beauty of the bush, it’s the power of the bush. It’s the power of music. It’s the power of a thing together.”
Walk for the Music takes place on Sunday March 28, starting at the Abbotsford Convent from 11am. Registration is $55, or you can sign up to volunteer. Register, donate or find out more here.