Vonda Last is a Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara (Western Desert) singer-songwriter living on Kaurna (Adelaide) land with over 40 years’ experience as a songwriter and performer. Central to her work in community music has been the revival of Indigenous languages and maintenance through composition of contemporary music. Vonda is my special guest today around 8.30am to yarn about First Voices Showcase.
First Voices Showcase is an important evening of music and conversation celebrating the vital contribution First Nations musicians and composers make to the ongoing vitality of the orchestral sector. Premiering two works by composers - Vonda Last (Awakening) and James Henry (Wiidhaa) performed by members of Australia’s first ensemble for classically trained First Nations musicians – Ensemble Dutala, alongside members of the MSO.
The evening will be directed by Noongar composer and violist Aaron Wyatt the first Indigenous composer to have conducted one of the nation’s major state orchestras, the MSO, in concert. Aaron is a remarkable man whose career continues to go from strength to strength.
ABOUT: In the First Voices program two composers per year will be selected and participants will receive a paid commission to develop a chamber work for MSO. These artists will work closely with MSO for a period of professional development, collaborating with staff and musicians in mid and end-of-program workshop days, benefiting from mentorship by MSO’s First Nations Creative Chair and MSO’s Composer in Residence and having their new works performed by an ensemble from MSO in a showcase performance.
The program is intended to be a classical composition program with a specific focus on composition and arrangement for orchestra. During the program, applicants will be expected to write a composition for a n ensemble of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra players and learn skills specifically relevant to orchestral writing.
Her song ‘For Love of Country’ is regularly sung by South Australian Primary Schools in the leadup to ANZAC Day and performed at every Adelaide Dawn Service since 2015. In 2021 she performed in ‘First Nations Voices’, voted the Adelaide Fringe Bank SA Best Music Award and the sold-out Grandmothers Songs at the Adelaide Festival Centre in 2020. She released her EP Home/Ngurra in 2022.
Vonda uses her musicality as an expression of her culture and what her family, their stories, her home and country mean to her. Her original songs are honest and melodic with a strong sense of the Australian landscape and way of life.
First Voices Showcase
Date: Friday 26 May 2023
Venue: 6:30pm at Iwaki Auditorium
Tickets: All tickets $15 ($5 transaction fee / online booking)
About this event
Join us to celebrate two of the MSO’s most exciting artist development programs: First Voices First Nations Composer program and Ensemble Dutala Residency.
Hear the premiere of two works by First Nations composers performed by members of Australia’s first ensemble for classically trained First Nations musicians alongside members of the MSO.
An important evening of music and conversation that will celebrate the vital contribution First Nations musicians and composers make to the ongoing vitality of the orchestral sector.
Aaron Wyatt conductor
Allara Briggs Pattison host
Vonda Last Awakening
James Henry Wiidhaa