Artistic Director’s Welcome

Welcome to the 2017 Denmark Festival of Voice!

Like previous years, we gather together each year to celebrate the human voice. To be touched by its beauty, its power and its ability to convey meaning.

In our current times when we are building walls and standing apart, we offer a time and place to honour the power of voice to unite. Through accepting diversity, through listening to the voice of the ‘other’, we find kindred-ness. Through exploring the voice of others, we come to know our own a little more. What message do we wish to leave on the scroll of time? For what purpose do we wish to use our voice?

These are more serious questions, but our festival is also one of joy! Song in all manner of forms and styles will sound forth, from sonorous solo through quirky quartet to the wonder of massed voices coming together for the sheer delight of shared song. When we sing together, we lose the sense of ‘you’ and ‘I’, and alive to the pulse of life, we dwell in the joy of ‘we’.

At the foundation of every culture lies the wonder of song – be it for ceremony, learning, healing or play. Humans are blessed with the incredible gift of song, of the ability to weave together meaning, melody and harmony. And humans are also story-tellers – and as we have in the past two years, we pay tribute to the importance of story in our hand-made yurt, and this year it is a particular privilege to have our local Elder Wayne Wonitji Webb give voice to the ancient line of stories from the land on which we meet.

The invitation to the Ensemble Aznash Laaman and Compagnia Sacco arose partly in response to a healthy curiosity about the voices of others. What do the ‘other’ actually say? What are their stories? Of what, or to whom, do they sing? What can we learn from those who use their voices to celebrate and wonder about the great mystery?

In the same way we must learn to listen to those beings from another culture, another way of life, we must also learn to listen to the voices of those people who are often at the edges of our communal life, and with this in mind we particularly welcome the Spirit of the Streets Choir, to grace the streets of our town with their song.

This year we are delighted to be presenting a wonderful collaboration between our own community and musicians and singers from Australia and Europe with the West Australian premiere of the Early English Baroque Opera The Judgement of Paris.

Likewise, it is a testimony to the vibrant heart of Denmark that, in addition to the three local schools, some 200 Denmark voices will be part of the 400 or so people who will grace the stage at this year’s Festival.

Our festival is a calling together of many voices, from the beautiful, creative town of Denmark, to the mountains and valleys of Georgia and Italy. May our shared voice be more than the sum of its parts, and may we be moved, excited and inspired in the presence of one another’s stories, words and song.

A huge thank you to the sponsors and funding bodies, big and small, and to the wonderful Board of Denmark Arts: Nigel, Ian, Steph, David, Sandra & Rosemary, to my fabulous Denmark Arts colleagues Myles, Anala, Kira, Tim, Jennie, Jane, Dorothy & Kerry, to the Volunteer Coordinators Shiralee and Bronnie, and to the great production crew, headed up by James, Jon, Dave, Craig and David.

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