Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Singing from the heart.

HOME CONCERT, Peacock Theatre, Festival of Voices.

Singing from the heart.
On a icy clear Friday night in Hobart, Salamanca Arts Centre echoes with the voices of choirs singing their hearts out in harmony. The Long Gallery has become the Festival of Voices Club and the atmosphere is so full with the joy of singing, I find myself grinning from ear to ear .
Downstairs in the atmospheric Peacock theatre, the Home concert begins and the buoyant crowd is quickly seduced and delighted by two of the great talents of this years Festival ; Indigenous singer - songwriter Shellie Morris from the Northern Territory and later, Indiana based hammer dulcimer virtuoso and choir master Malcolm Dalglish. What a treat we are in for as these amazing performers each invite us so warmly into their lives through their heartfelt songs and stories.
Dreadlocked and sneakered Shellie Morris’s cheeky warmth and beautiful clear voice are instantly infectious. Simple songs sung from the heart, of family, friends community, country and home interspersed with quick wit, real tears and quirky humour. Stories of the unconditional love of her adopted family; respect for the elders; the search for her birth family; and memories of childhood, when aborigines were still seen as “Flora and Fauna”.
Shelley is at the festival giving song-writing workshops, as she does all over the country, in remote indigenous communities, in gaols, and inner city communities. She ends her set for the night by creating a song on the spot and the audience cheers, hoots and claps with delight as they sing along to the chorus.

Malcolm Dalglishs’ arrival on stage is initially more subdued, but his haunting minor key compositions on hammer dulcimer, accompanied by his lilting yet gravelly voice, are spine tingling.Featuring beautiful ballads of love and passion from the poetry of Wendell Berry, as well as his own intimate stories of family and community – from dark nights in rural Indiana, atmospheric old barns, hard rain to the mythic seal woman story, his songs are without exception distinctive and delightful.
Interspersed with sometimes side splitting tales from his life, Dalglishs’ extensive theatrical background is never far from the surface. Beginning with his 30 year love story with the dulcimer; he demonstrates how its constellations of chords sometimes still involuntarily mesmerise him into hours of bad new age holding patterns. Or how jogging down the road becomes a great way to create new rhythms until the snarling dogs at the end of the street force his hysterical slow motion escape. And finally the stone back wall of the theatre becomes a cliff upon which he once spent a long night on a cold mountain side, as the beautiful harmonies of the Young Voices of Melbourne accompany his moving song, The Brink.
Dalglish may have told these stories and sung these songs hundreds of times before, but he is a gifted performer and it feels is if tonight is the first, that you are one of his best friends sitting in his lounge room and its a real privilege to be here.

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