Mt Druitt Indigenous Choir has great days ahead

Noteworthy: Conservatorium of Music Jazz studies lecturer Kevin Hunt rehearses songs in Darug language with Mount Druitt Indigenous choir members  Shanelle, 9 and Jake, 5. Picture: Gene Ramirez

Noteworthy: Conservatorium of Music Jazz studies lecturer Kevin Hunt rehearses songs in Darug language with Mount Druitt Indigenous choir members Shanelle, 9 and Jake, 5. Picture: Gene Ramirez

The Mount Druitt Indigenous Choir is on song for One Good Day, a performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music that will be documented along with rehearsals in a film of the same name.

It will include popular songs translated to the Darug language by elders and learnt by ear.

The children will share the stage with famed Aboriginal soprano Deborah Cheetam, a full band and Jazz studies lecturer and pianist Kevin Hunt, who first heard the choir perform at NAIDOC celebrations in 2012.

Choir director David Armstrong said the choir helped connect members aged 3 to 15 to their culture and language.

‘‘We got a couple of the Aboriginal elders to come in and translate the songs and in five minutes they had the kids singing in Darug,’’ he said.

‘‘People are very, very interested, because they’ve never heard the language. It has been studied by a lot of academics, but that hasn’t translated into people actually using it.

‘‘We try to get bright, positive songs translated. The language and the land are connected. It was never written down so we rarely use word sheets.’’

Mr Armstrong said the choir will next look to have songs translated into Kamilaroi, the language of the children who come from north-west NSW, and Bundjalung from the north coast.

They have rehearsed in Shalvey and at Blacktown's Bowman Hall for the past month.

‘‘They’ve performed so many other times in so many places, so [the Conservatorium] is just another stage for them,’’ he said.

‘‘I just want them to be so confident that they can walk on any stage and say ‘I can talk and I can make a difference’.’’

Year 2 pupil Natasha Dixon, has been part of the choir for three years and said her favourite song was Run with Fire, or Ingaya Wommala in Darug.

‘‘It’s great,’’ she said.

‘‘I like how David got people to help us do different songs.’’

Mr Hunt is completing a PhD on the Australian-made Stuart piano which will accompany the choir’s performance at the Conservatorium on December 13.

''It will be a highlight,'' he said.

‘‘The real reason I’m here is because of David and his faith and the journey he is on.''

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