Ngapa William Cooper.
Composed and written by Nigel Westlake, Lior, Dr. Lou Bennett and Sarah Gory. Australian String Quartet Dale Barltrop, violin Francesca Hiew, violin Christopher Cartlidge, viola Michael Dahlenburg, cello. Adelaide Town Hall, March 7 2023.
Reviewed by Peter Wilkins
|Lior and Nigel Westlake
Although the Adelaide Festival’s performance of Ngapa William Cooper is primarily about Yorta Yorta activist William Cooper’s protest against the treatment of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany, the evening of magnificent composition, musicianship and song is a commentary on the evils of oppression and displacement as well as cultural eradication. It is also a joyous celebration of courage and compassion and the healing power of empathy. It is a euphoric symphony to the power of goodness in humanityComposed for strings it comprises hard, sudden accents creating a feeling of protest and defiance before subsiding into a sustained sound reminiscent of ancient winds across a vast landscape and the persistent force of resistance. Dressner’s composition, played with stirring agility and verve by the four members of the Australian String Quartet serves as a prelude to Nigel Westlake’s beautifully conceived and composed tribute to Ngapa William Cooper with singer Lior and Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung musician, researcher and social activist Dr. Lou Bennett AM.
The second piece is Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 3 “Mishima” Glass’s distinct minimalism is inspired by Paul Shrader’s film ”Mishima” in which the famous Japanese novelist kidnaps a commandant in an attempt to restore dignity and the distinctive cultural heritage and national essence to the nation. In one way it echoes Ngapa William Cooper’s advance on the Nazi Germany consulate in 1938 . The comparison does draw a long bow, but it does highlight the call to preserve a people’s cultural heritage, diminished after World War 2 by occupation and by genocide and displacement in Germany after Kristallnacht and since the arrival of British colonization in Australia.
|Dr. Lou Bennett AM
They did not listen to William Cooper in 1938. In this Adelaide Festival world premiere Nigel Westlake with creative lyricist Sarah Gory, vocalists Lior and Lou Bennett and members of the Australian String Quartet with percussion, piano and double bass musicians create a night of transcendental experience. It is time to listen and for the voices to be .heard.