Earlier this month, the ABC published this video of the Madjitil Moorna Choir, a community singing group based in Perth that sings Aboriginal and Torres Straits songs. Comprised of indigenous and non-indigenous participants, the choir aims to share and promote indigenous music, generate healing, create a safe place for self-expression and encourage the formation of similar choirs in remote communities.
“The members come with a thirst to learn and they’re learning in a gentle and safe environment,” said Della Rae Morrison, musical director and Bibbulmun woman. “Madjitil Moorna really is working towards reconciliation and closing the gap, to bring healing to our community.”
Since being founded in 2006, the choir has welcomed singers of all skill levels, backgrounds and ages. The repertoire includes old songs and new compositions, in both Indigenous languages, including locally-spoken Noongar, and English. Guitarist Kobi Morrison provides accompaniment. He said, “This has expanded into a whole lot more than just a choir. It’s also like a giant friend group, a giant family … Being able to help them to achieve that perfect sound, when you get that sense of achievement, everybody is just so high afterwards. They feel a natural high.”
Rehearsals are held every Monday evening in Forrestfield and performances take place all over Perth and Western Australia. Recently, Madjitil Moorna appeared at Ashfield Reserve during NAIDOC Family Day, at the Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre as part of Makuru Arts Festival and at Denmark Festival of Voice.
In addition, the choir hosts professional development workshops at various Western Australian schools. These involve sharing Indigenous songs with teachers, who are encouraged to pass their learning onto student and fellow educators.
Jo Randell, choir coordinator, said, “From the outset, Della Rae and Jessie Lloyd [musician and composer] said we need to encourage everybody to come and sing Aboriginal songs. That was their wisdom. Once people open their minds to Noongar language, then they open their mind and hearts to the people, to the way it was, the way it is, how things have changed, how contemporary Aboriginal culture is a living thing.”