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Remembering Mirrabooka ( 14 March, 1999)

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Performance and Composition
Location: Gasworks Arts Park, City of Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia
Composition by Eve Duncan. Performance for four simultaneous ensembles.


Remembering Mirrabooka was created for four simultaneous ensembles performing in Gasworks Park by the sea near Port Phillip Bay. Arranged by the City of Port Phillip as part of the annual Mayor's Day community celebrations, the idea for a special piece of music was devised by council worker Anna Monea. She described the arts precinct and park as being full of thousands of people enjoying food, activities and displays in the mild and sunny early autumn weather. The commissioned work was to create a sense of interconnectedness, as people strolled in and out of the music, experiencing its different instrumental versions. It was also to reflect the theme of that particular year which was ĎA Sense of Place.

The aspect of cultural identity and migration was the inspiration for the work. The four ensembles represented the British migration, other Western European migration (such as Italian and German), and Chinese and Russian migrations to the area. My imagination was caught by the fact that Gasworks Park is by the sea and close to the ports where migrant groups first came to Australia. I wondered which aspects of Australia might confront these newly arrived people that were completely new for them and might deeply and profoundly affect them. I decided that this would be the inspiration for the music. The ensembles were as follows:

  • The Australian National Academy of Music String Ensemble (directed by John Hopkins) who represented nineteenth century Western European migration. Tom E. Lewis played didjeridu with them, on the theme of Australia's future confronting the migrants.
  • The Port Phillip Brass Band representing the early British migration. They performed with percussionist Peter Neville who was improvising on the theme of developing Australia's physical environment, which lay before the migrants.
  • The Australian Chinese Music Ensemble (with sheng, yangqin, dizi and erhu) represented the Chinese goldrush migrants, and they performed with percussionist Keith Hunter improvising on the theme of Australia's nature, which confronted the migrants in all it's uniqueness.
  • The Satko Balalaika Orchestra represented the postwar Russian migrants, and with them clarinettist Brigid Burke improvised on the theme of Australia's creative atmosphere, which met the migrants as a new atmosphere.

Three of the ensembles were spaced around the park taking into account where people would be wandering and the spacing of the stalls and displays. The aim was to have a sense of close and distant sound. The Chinese and Russian ensembles were placed on raised stages and amplified, as demanded by the noise of the crowd and the wind. The brass band was placed on the grass in the full sun, their natural acoustic being adequate for outside crowd performance. The Chinese Fan Dancers were on another

stage with the music amplified, The performances were publicized in the programme and by a town crier (dressed as a tram) who walked through the crowds. The Australian National Academy of Strings with Tom E. Lewis was placed inside in the Gasworks Theatre. The ensembles performed simultaneously three times in the afternoon. The theme of Remembering Mirrabooka was taped and given as an improvisation source to Indian musicians Pandit Panchanan Sardar and Dada Parananda and to African musician Valangha Khoza and Hemisphere who also performed on the day.

Commissioned: by the City of Port Phillip.

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Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 27 January 2004

Published by The University of Melbourne
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: i.mott@unimelb.edu.au
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 18 January 2007

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