Dance of dispossession : lyrics by John Kinsella, adapted by Becky Llewellyn
by Becky Llewellyn (2001)
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Dance of dispossession : SATB a capella / Becky Llewellyn ; lyrics by John Kinsella, adapted by Becky Llewellyn.
Library shelf no. 782.5554/LLE 1 [Available for loan]
Dance of Dispossession was inspired by listening to poet
John Kinsella read at the Adelaide Writer's Festival. I went
straight to the book tent and found his poem
Dispossession which seemed to sing off the page with its
lists of words associated with what happened at and after white
settlement. I met John and asked his permission to set the poem,
which he agreed to. As I worked on it, though I could hear
distorted words coming out of his words - how they sounded rather
than how they looked, so the music embodies my imagined meanings
of his words: John's 'protection' becomes my 'protect/shun'.
Imagine how aborigines must have heard or misunderstood such
I have used a kind of Elizabethan dance form, the height of civilisation's gift - a jaunty counterpoint to the reality of the words, as the settlers remained in their cloistered 'society' mostly very unaware of how the fact of their presence changed everything for indigenous people here. Within the busy text narrative are moments of musical atonement (my take on John's word 'autonomy' is 'Atone! Ah, me!'). It is all artifice, at once playful and light, masking very dark subject matter and pain.
Instrumentation: SATB a capella choir (or vocal quartet)
Duration: 5 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.
Commission note: Commissioned by Syntony for 2002 concert season.
First performance: by Adelaide Syntony — Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders St
Text from 'Dispossession' by John Kinsela, adapted by Becky Llewellyn.
- Has as subject/About: Indigenous Australian Culture
Performances of this work
16 Feb 02: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders St, Adelaide. Featuring Syntony.
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