The Tiwi Island Strong Women, some of our greatest song preservers in the country, joined by Genevieve Campbell and the ANU School of Music
The Tiwi Strong Women’s group have been sisters and friends all their lives, growing up together with song as their shared identity. Now, as respected Elders, grandmothers, culture and knowledge holders they are mentors in their community, drawing on their knowledge of Tiwi song traditions to help young Tiwi people connect with their language and cultural identity. They have performed at the Darwin Festival a number of times as well as at the Sydney Festival, in the Sydney Opera House, the NSW Art Gallery and the National Film and Sound Archive and feature in the Australian feature film Top End Wedding. For many years they have been leaders in Tiwi song language composition, documentation and preservation projects and are currently the protagonists for the proposed Milimika Culture and Knowledge Centre on Bathurst Island.
Joining them on this visit are two senior song-men who bring with them particular knowledge of Tiwi song language and dance forms, as well as some younger emerging song-men and -women, plus classical and jazz students form the ANU School of Music including the Chamber and Contemporary Choir, the Jazz Collective and classical chamber music.
Across 30 years as an orchestral horn player, Genevieve Campbell has played in opera, symphony, chamber, music theatre, marching bands, soundtracks, stage shows and television. In 2007 she met the Tiwi Strong Women’s group and with them co-founded Ngarukuruwala (We Sing), bringing Tiwi and non-Tiwi musicians together in collaborative composition, performance and recording. Her Doctoral research centred on the repatriation to the Tiwi community of ethnographic field recordings of Tiwi ceremony and song archived at AIATSIS, and, with senior singers, creating the first musicological analysis and notated transcription of classical Tiwi melodies. She is currently a Sydney University Fellow, working with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Sydney Environment Institute and Tiwi song custodians with focus on the role of Tiwi song and oral, embodied and performative knowledge systems in cultural maintenance, artistic creativity and social health and spiritual wellbeing.