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Spinifex Gum


Musical snapshots of life in the Pilbara, performed by the lush voices of Marliya from Gondwana Choirs, Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill (The Cat Empire), plus special guest Emma Donovan.

Commissioned to write a song cycle for the choir, Riebl spent several years visiting the Pilbara to build relationships and gather stories. He and Ollie McGill went on to write the album Spinifex Gum about the region’s local tales and characters, true stories of racism and injustice, and the legacies of colonisation. The music production is staunchly modern, built from found sound samples of the Pilbara – rustling leaves, bouncing basketballs and chugging trains.

Riebl said of the powerful project, ‘I lived and worked with communities in the Pilbara to develop a suite of songs sung in English and Yindjibarndi, telling stories of contemporary Australia and informed by the culture and traditions of its First Nations. The result is a journey to the sun-kissed Pilbara of Australia’s north west.’ He added:

‘Spinifex Gum has been a project of a lifetime because its brought me deeper into this country – its landscape and its politics – and into music I would never have discovered had it not been for the wonderfully diverse collection of people who have made it all possible. Most of all, it’s given me the opportunity to compose for and collaborate with the young, bright, powerful women of Marliya. That’s been a true joy. To bring this show to my home city of Melbourne and perform it in the extraordinary acoustic space of Melbourne Recital Centre is going to be a real treat. I can’t wait to hear these voices in there.’

This is a distinctly Australian experience, made up of the sounds of the red earth, the voices of Marliya of the Gondwana Choirs, and the collective voices of this country. It’s made up of languages new and old, and the wrongs that wait to be righted. Of passion, fight and love.

‘A breathtaking and uniquely Australian performance.’ Ali Moyan, InDaily

‘The sweetness of the singing, the power of the words and the movement make this a magical experience’ The Adelaide Advertiser

‘This is the Australia we live in, and it needs sharp life affirming protest songs like Spinifex Gum’s more than ever.’ The Adelaide Review

Spinifex Gum has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and the Major Festival Initiative in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festival Inc., Adelaide Festival, Sydney Festival and Monash Academy of Performing Arts; the Ryan Cooper Family Foundation, the Lightfolk Foundation, Annamila Foundation, many generous individuals, and by Creative Partnerships Australia through the Australian Cultural Fund. This tour has been auspiced by Auspicious Arts Projects.


Friday 13 September 8pm
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (75-mins no interval)
Marliya vocals
Emma Donovan vocals
Felix Riebl
Ollie McGill
Tickets $79/$59
Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre

For more information and to book tickets click here.


Di Rolle
di@dirolle.com | 0419 001 068