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Spreading the word - our folklore
In 2009-10 I was awarded the National Folk Fellowship by the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival.  The Fellowship is awarded each year for a project that brings music in the oral history and folklore archives out into the wider world.  I believe the community choir network is a surefire way of passing on folklore – history and culture - through SONG rather than via the pages of a history book.  And so, my project was born: to find songs in the archives either sung in harmony or that would lend themselves to being sung in harmony and arrange them for choir.  These three-part arrangements are available in a book of scores titled If I Give You A Golden Comb and recordings of all the songs (with soprano, alto and bloke rehearsal recordings also available).  The recordings are available below.  If you’d like a copy of the book please contact me

Choir at National Folk Festival
Some of the 100-strong choir performing at the National Folk Festival in 2010. Photo: Olya Willis

A massed choir learnt the songs and performed at the 2010 National Folk Festival, with the highlight being a rendition of Dyan Summers’ song “Songline of the Moonbird” performed by her husband Ronnie Summers and the choir.  We felt privileged to learn the song with the composer and singer, and honoured to pass on the story of the Cape Barren elders.

Songs recorded at the National Library of Australia with Christine Wheeler and Tom Bridges

Please be patient as the sound files load

01   The Army Song (trad) 
02   A Big Gun Shearer (trad)                                
03   He Built a Shack (Christina Mimmocchi)         
04   E Lei La Va in Filanda  (trad Italian)                                       
05   I'll Be All Smiles Tonight (variation of a song attributed to T.B. Ransom)                 
06   Lola Children's Song (trad)                             
07   Lowlands (trad)                                  
08   Madama Dore' (trad Italian)                                       
09   Mademoiselle From Armentieres (trad)          
10   The Songlines of the Moonbird (Dyan Summers)        
11   Ultimo  (parody of Down Where the Cross-Eyed Claras Grow (Stanley/Allen))
12   Take your Bulldozers Away (John Dengate)
13   To Whom (trad, translated from the Ukrainian by Olya Willis)                     
14   The Wee One

And with Terry Clinton and Kate Andrews performing as Touchwood, taken from the cd Between Two Door       

15   Bionda, Bella Bionda (trad Italian)     
16   Speriamo che i Sassi    (trad Italian)

Massed Choir
2010 National Folk Festival         Photo: Olya Willis
L to R: Peter Miller-Robinson, Christina, Peter Hicks, Jason Roweth, Chloe Roweth, Ronnie Summers, Dyan Summers, Rob Willis, Kerrie Maguire.

With thanks to the National Library of Australia and the National Folk Festival for these recordings and for the opportunity.

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