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Archived event

Performance details

Sunday 27 March 2022 at 11am
Deakin Edge, Federation Square

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Musicians of the MSO
Jenny M. Thomas fiddle-singer, pianist


Thomas Ben Hall Sleeps*
Streets of Forbes*
(arr. Danish String Quartet) Last Leaf (excerpts)
Klezmer Fantasy: Concertino for Klezmer Clarinet and String Quartet
Wild Colonial Boy*
Waltzing Matilda*
The Fiddlers
Botany Bay*

*arranged by and featuring Jenny M. Thomas, fiddle-singer, pianist.

About this performance

Murder, sadistic commanders, cross-dressing gold diggers, gay bush rangers and bizarre rituals. Australian history – boring? Not at all.

Traditional Australian folk songs of the Anglo Celtic peoples were written by criminal women and desperate men from an era of transportation, adventure and gold. The works on this program depict class struggle, migration and the dank corners of convict history through the lens of the 19th Century.

There have always been secrets hidden within the jolly refrains. How about Wild Colonial Boy, a true story about a 16-year-old from Castlemaine, or a potentially treasonous song about popular bushranger Bold Jack Donahue? And is Banjo Patterson’s swagman union leader Samuel Hoffmeister? He burnt down a shearing shed before fleeing to a billabong. Ben Hall was killed by the police, then dragged through the streets of his hometown of Forbes to teach the public not to defy authority. And Botany Bay? It was written for a London musical and proved to be a nice piece of propaganda: Don’t break the law or you will end up in Australia.

Contrasted with modern takes on European folk traditions from Seletsky, Rautavaara and Bartók, this program proves that folk music is not a genre – it is an oral history.

Duration: approx. 75 minutes, no interval

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