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Buŋgul - Dr Gurrumul Yunupiŋu’s seminal album brought to life

[by Suzanne Robson]


Nebbie Burrawanga and R James Gurrawiwi. Photo credit : Anna Reece

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 20 MARCH 2023 – Dr Gurrumul Yunupiŋu’s seminal album Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow) will be brought to life at Hamer Hall in Buŋgul, a hypnotic live performance featuring Yolgnu dancers and songmen with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra from 14 -15 June 2023. The performance is presented as part of RISING.


Dr G. Yunupiŋu’s posthumously released album, Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow), is considered a landmark moment in Australian music. The album transcends its author’s death and celebrates his life by bringing together western and his Yolŋu family’s musical traditions. Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow), was designed to act as a mediator between two traditions in Australia: European orchestral music and millennia-old Aboriginal song.


However, the music and album alone only tell a part of a story. Yolŋu live in a largely connected world, connecting all natural elements of the earth through dance, painting, song, land and ancestral stories. 


The show Buŋgul brings all of those elements together, carefully curated by the Yolŋu, with songlines related to land forms, related to dances, related to painting styles, related to musical patterns, and told through deep poetic language expression to bring us an equal of high art in this country from some of the most precious people who still live here. 


A buŋgul is a ceremony, a gathering ground: a meeting place of dance, song, and ritual. Buŋgul, (also known as Gurrumul's Mother's Buŋgul, Gurrumul's Grandmother’s Buŋgul, Gurrumul's Manikay), is a ceremonial celebration of one of the transcendent albums of all time and that record’s legacy.

Created on Country in Northeast Arnhem Land, with the Yunupiŋu family, the hypnotic performance features live Yolŋu dancers and songmen presenting the songs, dances and paintings that inspired Djarimirri accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. The work was directed by Senior Yolŋu man Don Wininba Ganambarr and Nigel Jamieson.

"To the Yolngu, our songs, paintings, and dances are our books—they tell us where we have come from and where we are going to… They are our maps, our law books, our title deeds, and our family history,’’ said Buŋgul Co-Director Don Wininba Ganambarr.


This production has been assisted by the Australian Government's Major Festivals Initiative, managed by the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., commissioned by Perth Festival, Darwin Festival, Adelaide Festival, RISING, Sydney Festival and Brisbane Festival.


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