The Short Black Opera for KIDS program began in 2009 when we made the decision to develop an Indigenous children’s chorus who could perform in my opera Pecan Summer. We made my way to Shepparton and invited children from local schools to participate in a 2 day workshop. 30 children attended that first workshop and those who who showed ability and a willingess to commit to rigorous training formed the very first Pecan Summer Children’s Chorus. This group became known locally as the Dhungala Children’s Choir. Three of the original members Minjaara Atkinson, Edward Bryant and Darcy Pierce are still with us, seven years later.
In 2013, members of the Dhungala Children’s Choir wrote their own song, Do You Know Me? Since the very first performance this song has had a powerful impact on audiences and has now been shared with Aboriginal children around the country through our Short Black Opera for KIDS! regional engagement program and the Dhungala Choral Connection intensive choral camp.
Do You Know Me? became the genesis for collection of songs written of the past 18 months – The Dhungala Choral Connection Songbook: Volume 1,and represents an important milestone for our company. Connecting Indigenous children to traditional languages through song is is a vital and effective way to strengthen cultural identity and install confidence. We consider this one of our most important tasks.