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Dance of dispossession : SATB a cappella

by Becky Llewellyn (2001)

Audio Sample

Performance by Syntony from the CD Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.

Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.


This item is not commercially available from the Australian Music Centre. We regret that we cannot offer it for sale.


Selected Works by AMC Represented Artists, vol. 128.

Library shelf no. CD 3185 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

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 words.

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.

Work Details

Year: 2001

Instrumentation: SATB a cappella choir (or vocal quartet).

Duration: 5 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Syntony for 2002 concert season.

First performance: by Syntony — 16 Feb 02. Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders St, Adelaide

Protest song.

Text from 'Dispossession' by John Kinsela, adapted by Becky Llewellyn.


Performances of this work

16 Feb 02: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Flinders St, Adelaide. Featuring Syntony.

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