Over the history of performing arts, the incredible transformative and healing power of music has been widely conveyed by artists and audiences. They talk of the power of music to speak when words cannot and the power of song in finding a voice that’s lost.
It was recognition of this healing power, that four years ago led Brisbane-based community organisation, Micah Projects, to establish Songs of Justice an event raising awareness of the ongoing trauma of those who have experienced institutional abuse as children. This year Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s (QPAC) through its Public Engagement and Learning program, partnered with Micah Projects to present the fifth annual Songs of Justice concert in QPAC’s Concert Hall in October.
QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said Micah was an organisation committed to social justice and doing great work with people in the local community. “We’ve partnered on a number of projects with Micah, but this is the largest that we’ve done in terms of a performance. It gave us the opportunity to give back and help them raise their profile across the general community,” Mr Kotzas said.
With ARIA Award Winning singer-songwriter and guitarist, Dan Sultan as the headline act and featuring well-known Australian singers Leah Cotterell and Ellen Reed, the concert’s wonderful impact was not just in these acclaimed artists’ performances but in the coming together of many community choirs. The voices of people from all walks of life, those impacted by institutional abuse and those there to support them, were raised together in heart-warming and heart-wrenching song in QPAC’s Concert Hall. Those with years of experience singing, and those who never imagined that they’d ever sing as part of a choir, let alone on a concert hall stage, came together in artistic harmony. Songs such as Lean on Me, Getting Stronger, Higher Love and This is Me, some performed solo, some with a vast collection of voices, ensured a night of moving and meaningful moments.
Absolutely Everybody Brisbane Choir, Children’s Health Queensland Community Choir, Freedom Train, Lotus Place Voices, QPAC Choir, Songlines Choir and With One Voice Brisbane shared their hearts and voices to bring a community healing and connectedness. This year’s event also recognised significant anniversaries for community including the 10th anniversary of the National Apology to Forgotten Australian and Former Child Migrants, the 20th anniversary of the Forde Enquiry, the 11th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations and the first anniversary of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse.
In her keynote address at the event, Former Governor-General of Australia, The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, expressed her view of “the heartland role that Art and Education play helping clarify what really matters.”
“Good outcomes don’t just happen themselves, or even through good intentions. Good outcomes demand us to be attentive, purposeful, vigilant,” she said. With its focus firmly on the theme of social justice and how music can create change and build community, Songs of Justice was not the first time that QPAC had partnered with Micah Projects to connect with community and nor will it be the last.
Visit QPAC’s facebook page to view some footage from this very special performance.