Adelaide Festival presents Ngapa William Cooper Composed and written by Nigel Westlake, Lior and Lou Bennett / With additional creative lyric content by Sarah Gory It’s been almost a decade since
Adelaide Festival presents
Ngapa William Cooper
Composed and written by Nigel Westlake, Lior and Lou Bennett / With additional creative lyric content by Sarah Gory
It’s been almost a decade since composer Nigel Westlake and singersongwriter Lior shared their classic song cycle, Compassion, with the world. The pair unite again for the world premiere of Ngapa William Cooper (Grandfather William Cooper), a moving companion piece in which they are joined by an equally unaffected, yet deeply affecting voice: that of Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung singer, composer and language activist Dr Lou Bennett AM.
The liberating power of compassion is once again the theme, but this time the focus is on a still largely unsung Australian hero and revered Yorta Yorta elder, William Cooper. An early activist for the rights of First Nations peoples, Cooper’s achievements were legion – but it was a single extraordinary act of empathy that triggered Lior to set this new work in motion.
In late 1938, outraged by the way political considerations muted official responses to the Nazis’ Kristallnacht atrocities, Uncle William led members of the Australian Aborigines League on an eight mile walk to the German Consulate in Melbourne to deliver a letter of protest. This is believed to be the only such demonstration by non-Jews anywhere in the world; a remarkable display of solidarity from one dispossessed people to another and an event worthy of this dramatic, complex and radiantly beautiful score.
Vocalists Lior and Lou Bennett are joined by the Australian String Quartet, Kees Boersma (double bass), Rebecca Lagos (percussion) and Andrea Lam (piano) to perform this much-anticipated world premiere. The ASQ carry the balance of the concert with two fascinating works – Philip Glass’ “Mishima” String Quartet, an M.C. Escher illusion painted in sound, and Bryce Dessner’s arresting homage to the diaspora experience of his Jewish grandmother, Aheym.
The world premiere production of Ngapa William Cooper is part of Finding Our Voice. Finding Our Voice is supported by Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative, UKARIA and the following individuals and foundations: Ulrike Klein AO, Berg Family Foundation, The Yulgilbar Foundation, The Aranday Foundation, Playking Foundation and Julie Kantor AO.
(Tuesday) 7:30 pm
Adelaide Town Hall
128 King William St, Adelaide SA 5000