Sunday, October 16, 2011

CHEETHAM : PECAN SUMMER

Radio New Zealand Concert network
Sunday 16th of October 2011 at 3.03 - 4.45 pm

INTRODUCTION
HISTORY
COMPOSER

SINGER
PICTURES
SYNOPSIS
REVIEW
CHEETHAM orchestrated Wells: Pecan Summer,
an opera in two acts with a prelude and postlude
Gomuka ....................... Rachael Woods
Dunatpan...................... Sermsah Bin Saad
Frank............................ John Wayne Parsons
Sarah............................ Karen Cummings
Old Alice...................... Ursula Yovich
Michael......................... Carlos Barcenas
Young Alice.................. Jessica Hitchcock
Jimmy........................... Zoy Frangos
Ella............................... Deborah Cheetham
McGuiggan................... Stephen Grant
James............................ Tiriki Onus
Elizabeth....................... Shauntaii Batzke
Frances......................... Minjara Atkinson
Mrs Joyce..................... Patricia Oakley
The Minister.................. Jonathon Welch
The Minister's Wife....... Rosamund Illing
Dhungala Children's Choir, Short Black Opera Company, Melbourne Chamber Orch/David Kram (ABC)
This is basically the life-story of Alice; it draws on the history of the devastating losses experienced by indigenous families affected by the policies of forced child removal that operated across Australia over many decades up until the early 1970s; it focuses on the walkout from a mission station (concentration camp) in New South Wales in 1939; the people crossed the Murray River and "went walkabout" but settled in such towns as Echuca and Shepparton in Victoria. The drama ends movingly with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (Labor Party) giving a public apology (saying "Sorry") for the past policies, something John Howard (so-called Liberal Party) had neglected to do.
   Deborah Cheetham is the librettist, composer, director, and singer of the role of Ella in this production of her indigenous Australian opera; the score was orchestrated by Jessica Wells. Deborah was herself taken from her mother and brought up in a white family (as a White Baptist Abba Fan, according to the title of her autobiographical play). She studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
   Deborah has sung in New Zealand, and (topically, October 2011) she sang with Argentinian tenor Jos√© Cura at the opening of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
   (Of course, probably none of this would have happened if she had not been adopted out.)
   We Collesses have strong blood-ties with Aboriginal Australians, and also Maori (not just with the two transported convicts from whom we are descended), and we are proud of all three of these connections.
   My wife Helen and I once had a memorable week with a big group of Aboriginal children, who were brought from the outback to Bondi Beach; the team lived in a church hall with them, and went to swim in the sea; it was Sunday school every day of the week; one vivid memory is the fanfare that was used to get them assembled for meals and lessons: Supp√©'s Light Cavalry Overture (which I eventually played my trumpet in,  here in the Manawatu Youth Orchestra when I was forty).

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