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Bach in the Central Desert

  • NGA - Gandel Hall Parkes Place East Parkes, ACT, 2600 Australia (map)

Concert 7 - Barbara Blackman Festival Blessing
Doma Hotels PRESENTS
with support of the Goethe Institut

In 1896 Bach reached the central Australian desert by way of the Lutheran pastor Carl Strehlow. By adapting Bach’s hymns to the Arrarnta language, Strehlow made the people of Hermannsburg the keepers of a new song. Hear the Ntaria Choir live in a concert that juxtaposes Bach’s universal legacy with Indigenous music making in Australia today. They are joined by William Barton, Veronique Serret, Chris Sainsbury and the Berlin-based saxophone quartet.

The concert is followed by a public conversation with Chris Sainsbury, William Barton and members of the Ntaria Choir moderated by Roland Peelman.


William Barton/Veronique Serret, Heartland (WP)

J.S. Bach, Italian Concerto BWV 971

Chris Sainsbury, Bark of the ‘bidgee (WP)
Commissioned by A Major Lift

Bark of the ‘bidgee
Ripple ripple
Sky Dancing
Deep Secrets
Bach of the ‘bidgee

J.S. Bach/Kalevi Aho, Contrapunctus XIX, from The Art of Fugue BWV 1080

Ntaria Choir sings

Jesuai nhau-urna pitjai (Jesus Christ, turn to us) - in Western Arrarnta
After 17th German chorale ‘Herr Jesu Crist, dich zu uns wend’

Godanya Nganampa Mayatja - in Pitjantjatjara
Original song (c 2003) by Petrina Windy with words by Petrina & Caroline Windy and Hollie Webb

Mayatjaluni kanyilpai (The Lord is my Shepherd) in Pitjantjatjara
After Scottish Psalter (1650), based on Francis Rous (1641), melody by G.Th. Smart (1776-1867)

Enka ntjaap’ra nukai (O Bless the Lord My Soul) - in Western Arrarnta
After Isaac Watts (1674-1748) and Aaron Williams (1731-1776)

Nurna wurlerrama (We gather before the Lord ) - in Western Arrarnta
After traditional German round, origins unclear

Kaarrerrai, wurlamparinyai! (Wake, Awake, for Night is Flying) - in Western Arrarnta
After Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608) and J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

With William Barton, Veronique Serret and Bree van Reyk


Ntaria Choir saxophone quartet
William Barton
Veronique Serret
Sally Walker
Callum Henshaw
Bree van Reyk


This concert is generously supported by Andrew Blanckensee.

Earlier Event: 5 May
Bach's Orbit
Later Event: 5 May
The Three B's