Basking in the glory of a tour mission accomplished, Ba-Boom! and the L.A. Drummers flew out of Melbourne’s grey southern skies, back into the Central Desert’s crystal blue hues. Looking down upon the orange ground and seeing Santa Teresa in the distance, we wondered where and when will we be touring together again.
On Saturday May 25, for the Long Walk 2013 celebrations, Melbourne’s Federation Square was filled with a sea of gathered people, eager to support The Ltyentye Apurte Drummers’ one and only public performance. Among the crowd were Indigenous luminaries, who later shared the same stage for this occasion. The L.A. Drummers’ powerful varied and precise beats resounded throughout the city, making the people in Federation Square dance joyously and cheer loudly, which brought the Drummers a deep sense of recognition, appreciation and joy.
This major public performance represented the pinnacle and goal of months of preparation, work and training and was dedicated to the late school principal, Greg Crowe. The opportunity to present the high-level of youth musical excellence that is being cultivated in Santa Teresa’s school to a wider, Australian audience was initiated by Greg Crowe, who identified the annual The Long Walk celebrations as a suitable arena after the highly successful tour to Darwin in late August last year. Very sadly, Greg Crowe was tragically lost late last year, and we committed ourselves to following through on this, his last wish.
Every year, The Long Walk begins with a community carnival in Federation Square before the celebrated Indigenous footballer and spokesperson for indigenous rights in sport, Michael Long leads the crowd to Dreamtime at the ‘G, which kick starts the Indigenous Round in the AFL. The annual commemoration of his historic walk to Canberrra is now a popular celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander achievement featuring inspiring speeches, great bands, kids activities, market stalls and more.
It was truly an honour for these young desert Drummers to be involved in this high-profile celebration and they gave their most refined and polished performance to date. Many people were eager to remark that their execution of the rhythmically sophisticated and complex arrangements was impeccable and compelling. Ba-Boom! are deeply committed to changing low expectations in the Indigenous education arena by highlighting the skills and abilities of Indigenous youth. Alternative activities and programs can be offered as legitimate pathways of learning and success. This consequently leads to enthusiasm and the desire to learn and achieve further success in more general and mainstream educational options.
Emotional responses to the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers’ performances are deep, as people are overjoyed and many are moved to tears. Other presentations were also given throughout the weeks’ tour to the students and staff at Clonard College in Geelong, Avila College in Mt. Waverly and Assumption College in Kilmore. All of these host schools were very welcoming and highly appreciative of the Drummers’ showcase.
Of course, getting this tour funded took an incredible amount of energy and commitment too. We would like to take this opportunity now to express our gratitude to all of the people involved in practically supporting this tour happen.
- Centrecorp Foundation (grant).
- AFL (donation and game tickets).
- Australia Post (donation and ground transport in Melbourne).
- Tangentyere Council Drum Atweme Program (donation).
- Bob Stewarts School Uniform Specialists (donation of specially embroidered tracksuits).
- Palmer Family (donation of bullock for the raffle).
- Bush Bus (transport to/from Alice Springs Airport).
- Richmond Football Club (a ‘hoodie’ for each student; showbag with beanie and posters; free tour of their newly opened museum and facilities with morning tea supplied; free MCG tour; presentation of a special Indigenous round playing jumper; question and answer time with Shane Edwards (player).
- Essendon Football Club (participation in the Long Walk schools’ program, free tour of club facilities; photo opportunity with three Indigenous players (Ryder, Dempsey and Jetta) and coach James Hird; bbq lunch.
- African Drumming in St.Kilda for instrument hire: dunduns, djembes and percussion.
- Students and Staff of Clonard, Avila and Assumption Colleges in Victoria.
The tour group was accompanied by a core group of dedicated staff whose support we greatly appreciated and would like to acknowledge: Alison Gallio, Barbara and Peter Dempster, Marcus J. Williams, Elaine Gorey and Rachel Palmer.
We would also like to acknowledge the current LACEC school principal, Brother Daniel Hollamby for his time and effort in helping to coordinate and organise the trip.
Last but not least, we sincerely thank all seventeen young members of the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers, who are eager and willing to experience the wide, wonderful world of the performing arts, with all of its challenges and thrills, with Ba-Boom!
Ultimately, the Journey into Rhythm that the entire Ltyentye Apurte School has been on, is not only a journey of hard work, commitment, discipline and dedication, but a journey of joy, pride and empowerment. These feelings are mirrored throughout the community as a whole. We have all gone beyond ourselves to create this phenomenon called the Ltyentye Apurte Drummers over the past 3 years.
Much more work needs to be done. We have seen incredible changes in the individuals in the group and changes in their attitudes towards school and learning in general since we first began our visits to Santa Teresa in 2009, but only a sustainable program can create sustainable change!
And for more tour photos please go to our Facebook page!