On 13 June 2021, Sumer Association partnered with Western Sydney MRC to hold the ‘Sound of Terra’ festival as an early kick-off to Refugee Week.
The Sound of Terra event was a resounding success, with around 300 people in attendance, including numerous VIPs.
Uncle Russell opened our event with a Welcome to Country, an introduction to the meaning of the sounds of musical spirituality that dove deeper into understanding the deep connection to the land.
Infused with comedy, he gave a warm and skilful welcome. He was even able to adapt the sounds of the Didgeridoo to mimic a ringing phone!
‘Chutney’ took us on a journey of sounds and melodies, a Jewish inspired Eastern Europe music fused with numerous other sounds, including American Jazz. We were restrained in our seats, but I don’t think a single person wasn’t moving to the irresistible beats – I hope to hear from and engage Chutney again soon.
Oud is always memorising in my ears, and we were blessed to have the sounds of Oud played by a local master, ‘Furat’. Following a stunning performance, Furat was joined by ‘Kinnarum’, a local Arabic Choir. This multi-talented group took numerous roles during the night.
We were taken to Latin America by ‘Nighted’, continuing the fusion of Latin and Arabic Music. Their mastery of the guitar had us all entranced.
After the break, we moved to the sounds of the Sahara with the Moroccan ‘Gnawa’ band playing to the crowd that included the Morrocan Ambassador. This performance captured the audience’s feet. They spontaneously erupted with dance on a tiny stage that was infectious in joy.
The audience was presented with an all Arabic Comedic Drama, locally written and produced, a sign of the talent that exists locally at Maki al Badry.
We ended in Iraq with Mesopotamian music that had all dancing and singing along. Ismail Fadel is a local talent that we were blessed to hear, and everyone sang along. The final act could have gone on for hours longer.
Our fortunes were apparent early with Craig Donarski, Director of Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Fatima Youseff, a Sudanese youth leader, as MCs for the event.
We were also blessed to have several special guests, including; Liverpool Deputy Mayor Clr Mazhar Hadid and words of wisdom delivered by the Moroccan Ambassador Kerim Medrek. We also heard from an inspiring women, Yasmeen Yahya reflecting on her journey to Australia and her leadership within her community.
Early in the night, Salam Maryoosh was presented with a surprise award by Dr Amad Mtashar, on behalf of the World Mandaean Union, for his hard work.
More than unites us than that keeps us apart
In keeping with the theme of unity for Refugee Week, it was clear that music unites us all. In our travels through the performances, we were taken around the world, seeing how music melts together and can unite cultures and people, and clearly, we were united in our enjoyment. More importantly, we have more in common with each other in humanity than separates us.
These events underscore the valuable relationship we have with the community. We hold great value in supporting community aspirations in joy and celebration. Communities want to give to the great nation of Australia they call home. The association called on a vast number of volunteers and expertise that is a testimony of the want to live, work and thrive in Australia. These events do more than connect people; the arts provide culture and connection that goes beyond words.
Our special thanks to Multicultural NSW for supporting the event, to Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and their numerous staff for hosting and all their support. But my most excellent thanks go to the team of hard workers that made the event happen. A huge congratulations to the events team Nadia Bouchti, Nawful Alfaris, Salam Alkhudady and Wasan Almubarki and Rachel Haywood.
Personally, I had a fabulous night, I am very proud of the team at Western Sydney MRC and very proud of the partnership with the Sumer Association. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved. And to those that could not make it – maybe next time!
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Kamalle Dabboussy, CEO