MSO and Australian Art Orchestra present


a Gathering for Orchestra, Improvising Soloists and Songmen



Paul Grabowsky director / piano
Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wilfred vocals and bilma (South East Arnhem Land)
David Yipininy Wilfred yidaki (South East Arnhem Land)
Members of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Australian Art Orchestra


Paul Grabowsky*, Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wilfred and David Yipininy Wilfred Wata: a Gathering for Manikay Performers, Improvising Soloists and Orchestra
*2021 MSO Composer in Residence

About the performance

Presented in collaboration with the Australian Art Orchestra

The power of music to connect all people has never been more present or important than in this powerful work by MSO’s 2021 Composer in Residence, Paul Grabowsky AO.

In the vast wilderness of northeastern Arnhem Land lies a sacred place called Nyilipidgi. It’s here the heart of the ancient culture of the Wagilak people is realised, through a tradition of shared songs which bind the community together, both reflecting on and creating a sense of identity, place and unity. These ceremonial song cycles are known as manikay.

One of Australia’s most respected musical figures, multi ARIA-award winning jazz composer and pianist Paul Grabowsky brings together David Yipininy Wilfred, the traditional djunggayi (manager) of manikay on the country of Nyilipidgi, and his brother Daniel Ngukurr Boy Wilfred for this powerful performance of Wata celebrating the world’s oldest living culture.

Paul Grabowsky writes:
Wata is an ancient Yolngu word which translates as ‘wind’ in its many different iterations, both literal and mythopoetic. It is part of manikay which tells of the beginnings and ends of things, of the naming of people and places, songs that in their very performance dissolve our linear time into a vast well, a model of a fully interconnected universe. Wata is also a purification ritual, a song of new beginnings, of release, of flight, and connection to land, ancestry and hope for the future”.

Want more WATA? Learn about Wata In Conversation Ears Wide Open on 29 March at Iwaki Auditorium.

Duration: approx. 60 minutes with no interval

Program and artists subject to change

Arts Centre Melbourne indoor venues are operating at 75% capacity so you may be seated next to other patrons. The MSO and Arts Centre Melbourne strongly recommends the wearing of masks where 1.5m distancing is difficult to achieve, however wearing a mask is no longer a requirement for entry.

Important venue information:

  • QR code registration via a mobile device is required on arrival. We encourage you to download the Service Victoria app prior to your visit to ensure a faster check-in time.
  • Hamer Hall foyer bars will be open pre-show only
  • Personal water bottles will be permitted inside and filtered tap water will be available for self-service at the foyer bars
  • No Cloak Room
  • No Box Office sales or transactions, only available for trouble shooting or ticket collection

Orchestra safety on stage

The safety of our musicians, staff and audience remain the highest priority as we return to the post-COVID concert hall. In conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria and Arts Centre Melbourne, the MSO has begun rapid-result, asymptomatic testing for all members of the Orchestra and on-stage production staff. As such, you may notice that our musicians are not wearing masks while performing, and that they may be spaced more closely together than previously.

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