A Drama and English teacher by trade, Nicole has worked in Arts Education since 1995. Throughout her teaching career, she has directed, produced and choreographed a large number of stage plays and musicals at a variety of schools in Queensland and Mparntwe (Alice Springs). In the community theatre sphere, she is regularly involved in directing, crewing, acting, singing and dancing in musicals, plays, play readings, light opera, and now, her first Opera. Most recently, she was Assistant Director for the musicals Matilda Jnr and Mary Poppins at St Philip’s College, both staged in Alice Springs.
Steve is a theatre producer, director, performer, technician and teacher. He has directed hundreds of plays and musicals with some highlights being Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar, Spamalot, The Bald Prima Donna, Charley’s Aunt, The Maids and Accidental Death of An Anarchist. In 2011, Steve directed The First Garden which was staged at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, and in 2023 he will direct Evita at the Darwin Entertainment Centre.
Currently the Chief Conductor and Artistic Director with the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, Jon is also a cellist and chamber musician. A graduate of the West Australian Conservatorium of Music and the Royal College of Music, London, he has conducted the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and worked with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra as well as the West Australian Philharmonic. In the operatic repertoire, his work includes Assistant Conductor for Britten’s Peter Grimes and Bellini’s La Sonnabula for the West Australian Opera. Jon has been Artistic Director and Conductor of the contemporary Etica Ensemble and Artistic Director and resident cellist of Darlington Chamber Music for the past 15 years, and spearheaded the development of a new organisation, Chamber Music Perth. He has also worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, BBC Symphony and Singapore Symphony. Jon joined the Arafura Music Collective in Darwin in 2018.
PRODUCER and ASSISTANT MUSIC DIRECTOR
Claire is the Artistic Director of the Arafura Music Collective, Chair of Music NT, and Deputy Chair of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. A founding member of NT Arts institutions such as the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, Centre for Youth Music, Darwin Youth Festival, Darwin Youth Orchestra and Arafura Music Collective, she has worked as a musician, composer, music director and producer of arts and cultural events across many genres. She plays baroque flute, shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and the modern silver flute. Born in Mparntwe (Alice Springs), she has degrees in Music, Visual Arts and Leadership and Change, and has taught music and visual arts and worked as an educator and executive leader in the NT Secondary and Tertiary sectors for over 40 years. Her work was recognised with the 1987 Women’s Fellowship for Services to NT Women in the Arts, and she was recently awarded the prestigious 2022 APRA AMCOS Art Music Award, NT Luminary, for sustained contribution to Art Music through the Artistic Direction of Arafura Music Collective.
SHAKUHACHI (Japanese bamboo flute)
Riley Lee is the recipient of two of the most venerated lineages of traditional shakuhachi and has been playing for over half a century. In 1975, he became the first non-Japanese shakuhachi Grand Master. He has a PhD in music from the University of Sydney, has released over 70 recordings and has registered approximately 400 compositions, co-compositions and arrangements for the shakuhachi with APRA-AMCOS and ASCAP. His music has been streamed on Spotify, as of mid-2022, almost 40 million times. His latest solo release (2022) is a 3CD set of the music of Hildegard von Bingen. A regular guest lecturer at Princeton University, he recently created and taught a course there on the brain, knowledge, memory, meditation, mindfulness and music. He has often played at the Sydney Opera House, performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and others. In 2017 Riley and the Enigma Quartet commissioned some of Australia’s most original compositional voices (including a work by Anne Boyd) to create new music for the combination of Eastern and Western instruments.
Francis is a high-level freelance musician and music educator. He has performed in 15 countries and is signed as a solo artist to Australian Global ENT (Aus) and Barry Ball ENT (US). He is a prolific composer, arranger and recording artist with multiple group and solo projects in a variety of genres – flamenco, classical, jazz, and more. He was a guitarist for world-renowned Yolngu singer Dr. G. Yunupingu 2008-2013, Murrungun musician and actor Balang T.E. Lewis, Yolngu and non-Indigenous group Yothu Yindi and several other Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups, including the Arafura Music Collective in Darwin. His festival performances include OzManouche jazz festival in Brisbane, Darwin International Guitar Festival, Darwin Festival, Garma, Perth Festival, Bali Arts (IND) Walking with Spirits, WOMAD Australia and New Zealand, Mundial Festival in the Netherlands and Latitude, UK. He has performed at The Egg (Beijing PRC) Queen Elisabeth Hall, Union Chapel (UK) and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
OLIVE PINK – Mezzo Soprano
Kristina trained in classical singing at the Sydney Conservatorium, and under the tutelage of Brian Hansford at the Victorian College of Arts and Joan Arnold at the Melba Memorial Conservatorium. She has performed in The Merry Widow and Rigoletto and in roles as diverse as Madame Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly, Fantine in Les Miserables and as Miss Lynch in Grease. Since moving to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in 2000 with her husband and young family, Kristina has contributed to the community through teaching voice to the next generation of young artists and producing many of the local Totem Theatre’s community theatre productions over the past decade.
TGH STREHLOW – Light Baritone
A graduate of NIDA, Steve’s acting credits include the national tours of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Anything Goes, Bran Nue Dae and I Do! I Do!, the world premiere of Only Heaven Knows and the Australian premiere of Assassins. He also has a long list of film and television acting credits, including Neighbours, Blue Heelers, Robbie Hood and MaveriX.
DAISY BATES and PAT COLLEY – Mezzo Soprano
Lisa-Marie studied musical theatre at the University of Ballarat Arts Academy and she has written and performed four one-woman shows that have been staged in Alice Springs, Adelaide, and Melbourne. A proud Northern Territorian, she shares her passion for music and performing arts by teaching singing, and she directed the children’s chorus for Opera Australia’s Madame Butterfly in 2019.
JOHNNY JAMPIJINPA – Speaking Part
Nick is a Western Arrarnta man from Ntaria (Hermannsburg), west of Alice Springs. A member of the famous Aboriginal country music Williams family, he grew up travelling with his legendary grandfather Gus Ntjalka Williams OAM and award-winning father Warren H. Williams as they performed in remote Aboriginal communities, towns and cities across Australia, including the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival. He joined the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir in 2013 and with them has performed at the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne Hamer Hall and Recital Centre, various festivals and on tours to Germany and the United States. Nick recently recorded with folk musician and raconteur Ted Egan, on Egan’s song Foundation Day.
DES NELSON – Light Baritone
A graduate of the Actors Centre Australia and recipient of the BBM Drama Grant for study in the UK, Dan’s acting and performing career on stage and screen and in radio includes Prince Valiant in Sleeping Beauty (2018), understudy/ensemble work in Phantom of the Opera (2015), as well as Curly in Oklahoma and Danny Zuko in Grease, both Sydney community theatre productions. He has trained at the New York Film Academy and London Academy of Dramatic Arts, and has a BA in Media, Screen Production and Radio Broadcasting from Macquarie University. Since relocating to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) in early 2019 with his work for Starlight Children’s Foundation, Dan has been part of the local performing arts community.
MR HARGRAVE – Baritone
A native to Central Australia and graduate of the Flinders University Drama Centre, Scott teaches at St Philip’s College and has been involved in a range of local stage and screen productions. He played Henry Wardlaw/Harold Southam in The First Garden, premiering at Olive Pink Botanic Garden in 2011 and later touring to Darwin and Sydney. With the Alice Springs Theatre Group, productions include Urinetown, Les Misérables, Grease and the title roles in Young Frankenstein and The Wedding Singer. Screen credits include 8MMM: Aboriginal Radio, Home and Away: Revenge, Pine Gap, and most recently, MaveriX.
CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL WOMEN’S CHOIR (CAAWC)
Formed in 2010 under the artistic direction of Morris Stuart, the choir comprises constituent choirs from six remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia: the Hermannsburg Ladies Choir (Ntaria) the Areyonga Ladies Choir (Utju), the Titjikala Choir, the Mutitjulu Choir, the Docker River Choir (Kaltukatjara) and the Mission Block Choir of Mparntwe (Alice Springs). The choir has gained worldwide attention and their successful tour to Germany in 2015 is captured in the documentary The Song Keepers. They have also toured the United States and performed at prestigious Australian festivals and concert halls, including the Elisabeth Murdoch and Hamer Halls in Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House. They received a National Indigenous Music Award in 2018. Their repertoire includes sacred songs in the Western Arrarnta and Pitjantjatjara languages.
GAP KIDS CHORUS
Directed by Jessica Wright, the choir includes local schoolchildren from a diversity of backgrounds who attend the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College Traeger Campus, Alice Springs.
OLIVE PINK (1884-1975)
Born in Tasmania, Olive Pink’s early training was as an artist. As a mature-aged student, she studied anthropology at the University of Sydney under Professor Elkin. She made her first journey to Central Australia in 1930 and subsequently camped and conducted research with Warlpiri and Arrernte people for extended periods of time until her always meagre research grants were exhausted. Refusing to publish sensitive cultural material, she abandoned anthropology and became a passionate advocate for Aboriginal rights. In 1940, she returned to Central Australia with the dream of establishing a secular Reserve for Warlpiri people. These plans were thwarted, and supporting herself on odd jobs in Alice Springs from 1946, she was evicted from her home in a disused army hut in October 1956. Then 72 years old, she set up a tent on the banks of the Todd River and from there successfully lobbied politicians to establish an arid region Flora Reserve dedicated to the preservation of desert plants. In March 1958, she was finally able to move into her relocated “home hut” in what is today the Olive Pink Botanic Garden. Here, she lived out her remaining two decades, building and tending her garden and lobbying on behalf of Aboriginal people in trouble with Anglo-Australian authorities. She was notoriously outspoken, a prolific letter writer and generally regarded by the locals as an eccentric.
TGH STREHLOW (1908-1978)
Theodore (Ted) George Henry Strehlow was born at Ntaria in the traditional homelands of the Western Arrarnta people, where German Lutherans first established the Hermannsburg Finke River Mission in 1877. Ted’s father, Reverend Carl Strehlow, headed the Mission 1894-1922. His father died when Ted was 14 years old, and he and his mother relocated to Adelaide where Ted completed his studies at the University of Adelaide, becoming a linguist. Having grown up with Aboriginal people, he spoke Arrernte fluently and he devoted much of his life to collecting sacred material and ancestral knowledge in Central Australia, published later in his 1971 epic Songs of Central Australia. His return to the Centre in 1932 became the first of many extended periods of living and working in the area, for a time as patrol officer and later deputy-director of native affairs. The relationship between Ted Strehlow and Olive Pink was tense. She found him obstructive, and he could be regarded as her nemesis. He argued that as a woman she could not be privy to Aboriginal men’s secret business, and he questioned her anthropological credentials. Like many male public servants, police, academics and locals she targeted in her activism, he considered her overly “emotional”. Yet, they continued to share a sincere interest in Aboriginal people’s welfare and advocated broader recognition of their cultural practices and beliefs.
DAISY BATES (1863-1951)
Friend and mentor to Olive Pink, the two women met at an ANZAAS conference in Sydney. Daisy invited Olive Pink to visit her at her remote South Australian Ooldea campsite to paint wildflowers in 1926 and again in 1927. Here, Olive learned first-hand about Aboriginal ancestral beliefs and customs. Her friendship with Daisy Bates (known among Indigenous people as Kabbarli, meaning grandmother/wise woman) was to be a lasting influence, and both women dedicated their adult lives to Aboriginal welfare and cultural preservation.
JOHNNY JAMPIJINPA (c.1916 – 1973)
A Warlpiri man, Johnny Jampijinpa was born on Mount Denison northwest of Alice Springs. Johnny served with the army during WWII with the honorary rank of corporal. Denied a pension because he had not formally been a soldier, Olive Pink insisted that as a gardener he receive the full wage. This was unusual for Aboriginal workers at the time. Working together for twelve years, they laid the foundations of the garden. Johnny remained true to his ancestral Warlpiri beliefs all his life and resisted alcohol for many years.
DES NELSON and PAT COLLEY
A young couple living in Alice Springs who had recently become engaged. Miss Pink liked and approved of young Des, who was a botanist working for local authorities and keenly interested in desert plants. Pat Colley was at the time working as cashier in the District Office, where she met up with Miss Pink on her many visits to that Department, and they enjoyed a cordial relationship.
Born in Adelaide in 1915, Hargrave moved to Alice Springs in 1949 where he worked as lawyer and was elected to the Northern Territory Legislative Council in 1954. His home was near the Olive Pink Garden.
GAP KIDS CHORUS
A group of local children from various cultural backgrounds who often met up to play in the vicinity of the Kilgariff property, which abutted the Olive Pink Reserve.
CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL WOMEN’S CHOIR
Formed in 2010 under the artistic direction of conductor Morris Stuart, the women are custodians of a continuous choral tradition extending back 120 years to the original missionaries to the Western Arrarnta. In the opera, drawing in the main from their current repertory, they function rather in the manner of a Greek chorus, providing a scaffolding for the work as a whole and as an intermediary between the narrative and audience.
OLIVE PINK OPERA ENSEMBLE
OPERA ENSEMBLE CONCERT MASTER
Jessica is a violinist, fiddler, singer-songwriter and music educator teaching performing arts at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Traeger Campus in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). She has completed a Bachelor of Music Education majoring in violin performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and won awards for academic scholarship and composition. Jessica released her debut EP earlier this year and her work as a music teacher was recently featured by Paul Kelly, showcasing her school choir performing a rendition of Sleep Australia Sleep in a clip filmed in the West Macdonnell Ranges with recording, mixing, vocals and guitar by Jessica. A multi-instrumentalist and prolific performer, she recently performed playing fiddle with Kasey and Bill Chambers, as well as with famed Western Arrarnta country musician Warren H. Williams. Her busy and diverse performance schedule has also included performing with Alice Spring’s World Chamber Orchestra.
The musicians of the Opera Ensemble are drawn from the Alice Springs community and consists of double strings, bass, woodwind, brass, percussion, and keyboard. They originate from all over Australia and overseas and most of them are tertiary educated classical musicians. Many of them work in Alice Springs schools as educators and others work as scientists, lawyers, doctors, and in other careers. Most of them perform in local music groups, ranging from Classical to Celtic, klezmer to rock and roll, techno, rap, indie and country and western.
Conductor and Music Director – Jonathan Tooby
Repetiteur- Tsun-En Cheng
Leader Violin 1 – Jessica Wright
Violin 1 – Glenys Rae
Violin 11 – Netanela Mizrahi
Violin 11 – TBA
Viola – Jane Coleman
Viola – Micha Jackson
Cello – Harshini Bartlett
Cello – Michael Bardon
Double Bass – Joan Wright
Flute – Katharine Adams
Clarinet – Caleb Keane
French Horn – Peter Gilham
Alto Saxophone – Callum Kruske
Percussion – Paul Box
Keyboard – Marg Collins
CENTRAL AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL WOMEN’S CHOIR DIRECTOR
Morris Stuart AM
A retired Pastor originally from Guyana, Morris came to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) for an extended stay in 2006. He decided to start a choir singing African freedom songs, recruited the first members by inviting people in the streets of Alice Springs to join, and the choir soon had 50 members. He returned to Alice Springs every year, and by the third year the choir had 100 members. He first worked with Western Arrarnta and Warlpiri women singers at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, and after working with six Aboriginal remote community women choirs, he formed the now internationally successful Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir in 2010. Morris received a Member of the Order of Australia in 2022 for significant service to the Indigenous community and to choral music.
PRODUCTION and CREATIVE
Producer and Assistant Music Director – Claire Kilgariff
Creative Co-Director – Nicole Evans
Creative Co-Director – Steve Kidd
Assistant Director – Maali Kidd
Designer – Rebecca Adams
Technical Manager – Daniel Lade
Site Manager – LJ Devlin
Stage Manager – Tiana Bateman
Costume Design Team:
Program Editor – Åse Ottosson
Program Design – Rebecca Kocass
Photography – Chloe Erlich