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PREVIEW BY AMELIA GROOM

As part of the annual Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival, The Sydney Opera House presents Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu for two nights only at The Studio.

Both critics and fans have lauded Geoffrey with praise for the subtle power of his music and voice. A former member of Yothu Yindi and now with the Saltwater Band, he’s has been blind since birth. His solo excursions have spotlighted his amazing talent as a singer, songwriter and musician and his debut album Gurrumul adapts the songs and stories of his Gumatj clan.

With most songs in his native tongue of Yolngu and a few in English, his music has a hypnotic and at times overwhelmingly emotional quality. With a singing voice that’s pure, simple, direct and moving, he’s also a master of the guitar, drums, keyboard and dijeridoo. Accompanied by his collaborator of 10 years, ex-Killjoy Michael Hohnen on double bass, and guitarist Francis Diatshenko, Geoffrey will be performing tracks from Gurrumul on Friday and Saturday night.

The following night, fifteen members of the Wangatunga Strong Women’s Group from the Northern Territory will perform alongside five Sydney musicians. The women’s choir from Nguiu on Bathurst Island, just off the coast of Darwin, create and sing songs that reflect their land and heritage. Performing largely at ceremonial and social gatherings, their sound has a gospel influence – a result of the Catholic Mission on the Island – as well as the rhythmic and melodic structures of indigenous Tiwi music.

The choir use a guitar and tapping sticks in their music, and the instrumental group includes double bass and drums, acoustic guitar, French horn, and saxophones. Combining traditional Tiwi Island music with contemporary jazz and funk, Ngarukuruwala: We Sing Songs will celebrate a fusion of cultures. Musical director Genevieve Campbell says she hopes the unifying language of music will help to connect people, both artists and audience, on a level of mutual respect and empathy that is sometimes difficult to achieve in modern Australian society.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu
July 11 and 12, $25-$35
Ngarukuruwala
July 13, $20-$30
The Studio, Sydney Opera House
Bookings: 9250 7777 or www.sydneyoperahouse.com