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Hornets Wedding (music theatre)

by Mark Dunbar (2003)

Work Overview

On the eve of Federation a wedding is celebrated in a country church. As Australia, the wild, maiden country comes of age through its betrothal to a maturing sense of sovereignty, so a second generation of Australian-born colonials grapples with the ghosts and wounds of battles past whose brazen brutalities must, for the sake of a seemly accord, be expunged from the public record.

​As the community gathers to deliver up a daughter to her future, mementoes of lineage link the present with the past. ​But an old inebriate at the chapel door reveals himself as ​Westie, the bride's estranged uncle, who as a boy survived a brutal bludgeoning at the hands of local blacks as they slaughtered his mother and sisters. The terrible crime triggered more terrible, and indiscriminate, reprisals that ultimately extirpated the Yiman as an aboriginal nation. Now from the edge of chaos, Westie returns to disrupt the nuptials as the heckling face of madness, memory and reconciliation.

A large-scale choral work of 20 songs and spoken dialogue, Hornets Wedding describes an imagined family showdown that arises from the historic 1856 massacre of Hornet Bank Station and ​the Yiman genocide that followed.​

Work Details

Year: 2003

Instrumentation: 9 actor/singers, SATB chorus, 3 celli, on-stage acoustic guitar, tenor drum (optional).

Duration: 100 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Brisbane Canto Coro in 2002

First performance: by Canto Coro, Mark Dunbar — 24 Jul 03. St Andrews Church, West End, Brisbane

Book & lyrics by Indija Mahjoeddin.

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
music theatre, musical, aborigines, Australian history

Performances of this work

24 Jul 03: St Andrews Church, West End, Brisbane. Featuring Canto Coro, Mark Dunbar.

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