Featuring: The Azadi Libertation Quintet, Melbourne Millennium Chorus, Jeannie Lewis & Vicki King, Bagryana Popov, Tracey Miller, Rentak Nusantari, Richard Frankland, Ajak Kwai, Chris Wilson & Shannon Bourne, Arnold Zable, Martin Tucker (kora), Kavisha Mazzella, Irine Vela, Filhos da Bahia Capoeira School Of Melbourne, Demilition Bgirl, Nikki Ashby, Mal Webb, Revolutionary Cardre, Dursun Acar, Therese Virtue, Jenny Candy, Heather Russell, Achilles Yiangoulli, Anthea Sidiropoulos, Mulaim Vela.
The Boîte – Azadi: Songs of Liberation
Review by Roger Holdsworth
Each year, around 400 members of the Melbourne Millennium Chorus take to the stage at the Hamer Hall in Melbourne’s Arts Centre to present, in collaboration with local musicians from a range of cultures, an ambitious and themed performance.
This is organised by Melbourne community group, the Boîte, and has been a highlight of the winter music season here for almost a decade.
In 2005, the eighth concert’s theme was one of freedom or liberation, under the title Azadi (the Iranian word for freedom).
The concert – and this CD is the live recording of a substantial part of their afternoon – brought together music from people’s struggles in Spain, the USA, Aceh, Sudan, South Africa, Italy, Brazil, Chile, Kurdistan, Bulgaria, Greece and, of course, Australia.
Some songs will be familiar: “Bella Ciao”, “El Pueblo Unido”, and “Bread and Roses” among them.
Others will be less so.
Yet others such as “Beds are Burning” and “Cry Freedom” will resonate from more recent popular culture.
The musical pieces are held together thematically by the words of Arnold Zable and Bagryana Popov, and the performances of all the artists convey variously hope, anger, joy, outrage and commitment.
Jeannie Lewis, Vicki King, Tracey Miller, Richard Frankland, Ajak Kwai, Chris Wilson, Valanga Khoza, Kavisha Mazzella, Dursun Acar and Anthea Sidiropoulos are just some of the soloists out front of that gorgeous chorus of Melbourne citizens – directed and energetically conducted by Stephen Taberner.
Instrumental and vocal backing comes at various times from smaller ensembles: the Azadi Liberation Quintet and the Revolutionary Cadre.
I must declare an involvement – I was there singing and clapping along in the audience.
Next to us, a mother applauded with great pride and with tears in her eyes, as her daughter, a member of the Indonesian group Rentak Nusantari, sang and danced traditional Acehnese songs.
If you were there, this CD from the Boîte will be a great reminder of an inspirational afternoon.
If you weren’t, it will make you wish you were, but give you some sense of that celebration and solidarity.
Each year, Melbourne’s community-based music organization, the Boîte, pulls together a hug (350-voice) choir for a themed series of concerts. Backing individual artists, the Melbourne Millennium Chorus presents music with strong social and political content. In 2005, the 8th event (at Hamer Hall in the Arts Centre) was structured and united around ‘Songs of Liberation’: Azadi. Liberation: Aceh, Australia, Spain, Sudan, Italy, Brazil, Chile, Kurdistan, USA, Greece – all were represented in songs from artists as diverse as Jeannie Lewis and Vicki King, Richard Frankland, Ajak Kwai, Chris Wilson, Valanga Khoza, Dursun Acar and Demilition Bgirl. As well, there were spoken pieces from Bagryana Popov, Arnold Zable and Ardeshir Gholipour. This was a dramatic and moving concert and both the music and the emotion are captured (insofar as a recording can do so) on the Boîte’s 15th CD. If you were there, this disc is a perfect reminder of a powerful event; if you weren’t there, this disc will make you wish you were.
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