Final compositions – depicting refugee journeys in music
The term ended at the Language School with the usual performances of the children’s compositions, and with a special event for Refugee Week at Federation Square. I say ‘usual’, but don’t want to downplay it – as always, there is something quite extraordinarily moving about these children singing to their peers about their experiences, in a language they are only just getting to grips with. It is incredibly moving.
Two classes performed at the Refugee Week event. Middle Primary had a set of pieces in three parts, that was a kind of musical time capsule, describing key events in their journeys from their countries of origin to Australia.
You can listen to it here:
Their opening song was jaunty and upbeat:
From Afghanistan to Islamabad, From Afghanistan to Islamabad.
Car to Grandma, car to plane. Leipzig to Frankfurt and Singapore
We waited… 2 hours, We waited… 4 hours! We waited… 8 hours! WE WAITED 16 HOURS!!
So sleepy my dad had to carry me.
This last line was sung in 2-part harmony and as it faded away the children began to whisper to the audience the amount of time their own journey to Australia had taken – from between 11 hours and many days’ travel!
They then segued straight into a 2-part chant, depicting their first day at Language School, when they are surrounded by information and questions, all coming at them in a language they don’t understand. The chorus was accompanied by unison, universal gestures of frustration:
WHAT should I do now? WHERE should I go now?
My head is going CRAZY on the first day!
They then moved to percussion instruments, and played an instrumental piece that was composed using some of the pitch exercises I had introduced them to at the start of term. The instrumental music served as an introduction to a song about The Things They Miss. Every time they sang the chorus, I would get a lump in my throat. They sang with such open hearts, and such sincerity, and such a strong sense of ownership of their music.
Now I miss the rain. Now I miss the snow. Now I miss the warm. The hot, hot, hot, hot days.
German bread and sausages. My friends and next door neighbours.
I came here from a village. I came here from the city.
Two dogs, three cats and Grandma, My house, my garden, Grandpa.
Uncles, cousins, friends from school, I miss them all,
I miss – them – all.