The magical opening concert of the Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival goes down tonight

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The magical opening concert of the Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee festival goes down tonight

BUMPY and Alice Skye
Words By Tammy Walters

If you’ve got no plans tonight, head down to Memo Music Hall where an extra special concert is taking place.

It’s go time right now in the bustling arts, music and cultural hub of St Kilda, as final preparations for an exciting extended edition of the annual Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee Festival (YWNF) take place.

Over on Acland Street, Memo Music Hall is gearing up for the official opening ceremony this evening, Thursday March 25, which kicks off from 6:30pm, with City of Port Philip producers promising a night of song, ceremony, soundscapes, dance, immersive art, recognition and celebration.

A special collaboration of First Nations musicians will commence the celebrations. Titled Gareeal (pronounced gah-ree-al and meaning ‘summer rains’), in acknowledgement of the current season as identified by the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation, the production co-curated by Yorta Yorta musician, composer, filmmaker, creative, Allara, celebrates the collective and individual journey all living things take, and the powerful connection to the land, here and now, to spirit, culture, and Ancestors.

The final song of the evening, shares spiritual connection to water, country and life itself. ‘Burrunan’, composed especially for the event, pays homage to the Burrunan dolphin, a species of bottlenose dolphin local to Port Philip Bay, with Allara aiming to raise the profile of their endangerment and the work of the Marine Mammal Foundation to conduct applied research programs, education and outreach initiatives pertaining to their protection.


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Told through rhythm, sound, vocals and strings arrangements, Allara has ensured conscious thought, awareness, understanding and cultural security of First Nations people in the composition of the piece.

“It’s really important to have integrity in writing cultural content. We need to take our time, it’s a slow, long and thoughtful process. We’ll be moving away from the English language and using only sound because we felt like the English language didn’t express what we are saying within the song,” Allara explains.

“This is a contemporary song and something that I really have learnt a beautiful lesson in, is that we are contemporary Song Women. The song is inspired by our culture and traditions and by the many yarns I’ve had the honour to share with N’arweet Dr Carolyn Briggs AM.

“It’s inspired by our connections with water, country, plants, seasons, stars and the animals, but it is contemporary, told from our perspectives, in honour of our Matriarchs and Bubba’s, Boon Wurrung and Gunai people and country and is a song of now.”

Telling this collective narrative, ‘Burrunan’ will be performed by a female-identifying, non-gender conforming lineup of Allara, Monica Jasmine Karo, BUMPY, Alice Skye, Maya Hodge, alongside Elle Shimada, Emma Hunt and Brooke Casterson.

The night will include performances from the feature artists, accompanied by string arrangements composed by Aaron Wyatt and performed by members of Ensemble Dutala & Friends. There will also be a ceremony led by Culture Evolves and a presentation by a member of the Marine Mammal Foundation.

Proud Noongar woman, who presents a kaleidoscopic homage that instantly feels its very own, BUMPY is touched to be opening the significant event and carrying such important messages.

“I’m extremely honoured and excited to be involved in the opening night show, ‘Gareeal’. Allara and the team have curated such a magical and immersive show and it feels so powerful to be on this lineup of First Nations female-identifying performers,” BUMPY says.

“I cannot wait to perform alongside my sisters and present a one-off special show. Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee have provided such a special opportunity for us to perform our original compositions alongside a string quintet, arranged by Aaron Wyatt.

“To hold these spaces together as First Nations women is truly magical and healing, and to be guided by N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, Jarra Steel and sis Allara, these powerful female creatives, is such an honour.

The Gareeal production incorporates Allara’s multifocal mission of music, arts, cultural and environmental awareness, in a similar fashion to fellow Yaluk-ut Weelam Ngargee Festival features.

The three-day festival also boasts a landmark performance from music legend and passionate campaigner for Indigenous Australian rights, Archie Roach, who has provided inspiration for both Allara and BUMPY’s work, including with the development of Gareeal.

“Uncle Archie is someone who has paved the way for First Nations and Aboriginal music. To have started my music career sitting behind him on the bass, I heard him tell his stories about how Aunty Ruby was always a force behind him, encouraging him to pursue his first record Charcoal Lane, his music is inspirational,” Allara explains.

“As young artists we pay gratitude to how Uncle Archie and Aunty Ruby Hunter were in the front line, and Uncle Archie still is, while lending a hand up to us younger mob.

“Being part of this event for me is helping create templates to create song and curate events with strong cultural integrity and continue to share that process with others, to strengthen our identity as First Nations people, we will always survive.”

BUMPY agrees, “Uncle Archie Roach is a true inspiration. His work is like no other; so moving and haunting. Uncle Archie is constantly teaching me how much power is in our stories and that we each have our own story to share. A true inspiration.”

Doors open at 6:30pm for tonight’s magical event. Book tickets here.