PuSh Blog

Australia’s Indigenous Rhythms and Cultural Roots Illuminated in Multimedia Concert Spectacle: dirtsong

January 24, 2017

PuSh Festival headliner will see acclaimed Aboriginal artists combine intoxicating music with stunning documentary film

Vancouver, BC – The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (PuSh Festival) and Coastal Jazz present the sweeping, visually-stunning multimedia experience, dirtsong, February 4, 8pm at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Australia’s Black Arm Band, an ensemble of acclaimed Indigenous artists, will perform intoxicating harmonies and vocals in nearly a dozen languages, drawing on 40,000 years of tradition to showcase their country’s rich culture. Behind them, projections of vivid Australian landscapes – from vast plains to outback communities – will become illuminated in stunning documentary film.

“Four years ago, I witnessed dirtsong and was profoundly moved by the work’s sublime artistry and its message of resilience, hope and understanding,” says Norman Armour, Artistic & Executive Director of the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. “Australia’s history marred by the displacement of Indigenous communities from their ancestral territories runs parallel to Canada’s own past. As we approach 150 years as a nation, I believe celebrating the enduring, deep-seated cultures of our overseas peers can empower us further along our own path to reconciliation.”

dirtsong was commissioned for Australia’s Truth and Reconciliation Hearings process and is so named to honour the bond between Indigenous peoples and the very soil they call home. With driving percussion, didgeridoo virtuosity, and soulful vocals, audiences will hear 11 Indigenous dialects – some virtually extinct – as they embark on a musical journey through the heartland of Australia. Sharing five narrative episodes based on the writings of Aboriginal author Alexis Wright, the performers are accompanied by striking cinematography that will conjure places, memories, and encounters, as well as moments of community and natural wonder.

Black Arm Band began in Melbourne, Australia in 2005 and comprises musicians, composers, directors and filmmakers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage. Through its distinctive music theatre incorporating powerful imagery, the renowned company creates world-class performances that strengthen and preserve Australia’s Indigenous cultures by connecting non-Indigenous and Indigenous artists.

Foremost Australian Indigenous performers Fred Leone (Director and vocalist), Deline Briscoe (vocalist), Shellie Morris (vocalist), Ursula Yovich (vocalist), Tjupurru (Didjeribone), and other esteemed musicians make up the flexible ensemble that will perform in Vancouver as part of Black Arm Band’s first-ever Canadian tour. Canadian Indigenous vocalist Michelle St. John will join the group on stage alongside local musical guests Chris Gestrin (piano), Meredith Bates (violin), Brad Turner (trumpet), and Jon Bentley (saxophone).

The PuSh Festival and Coastal Jazz presentation of dirtsong is supported by Australian High Commission Canada, CDm2 LIGHTWORKS, and Full Circle: First Nations Performance.

About the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival (pushfestival.ca)
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is Vancouver’s signature, mid-winter cultural event, taking place over three weeks each January in theatres and venues across the city. The PuSh Festival presents groundbreaking, contemporary works of theatre, dance, music, and multimedia by acclaimed local, national, and international artists.

About Coastal Jazz (coastaljazz.ca)
Coastal Jazz and Blues Society was founded in 1985 and incorporated in 1986, as a community based, not-for-profit, charitable arts organization located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The society, from the very beginning, has worked diligently to establish Vancouver as a centre for the creation and exchange of sounds and ideas between the local, national and international music communities.

Our mission is to not only increase the appreciation of the music, but to strengthen the arts community by developing special projects, artistic exchanges, partnerships, educational initiatives, community programs, and collaborations that further the art form. Our vision encompasses a wide spectrum of jazz, blues, world, creative, and improvised music, including evolving forms of jazz and the technologies and media that influence jazz as an art form.

Today, the Society ranks as BC’s largest music presenter producing the annual TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Music Series at the Winterruption Festival on Granville Island, the Bright Moments Series, Cellar Jazz Series and several year-round concerts.

PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and Coastal Jazz present: dirtsong

Date & Time: Saturday, February 4, 8pm
Location: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
650 Hamilton Street, V6B 5N6
Ticket prices: $25 – $45
Box Office: ticketfly.com or 604.449.6000
Website: pushfestival.ca



For further media information, contact
Hanah Van Borek I T. 604.558.2400 ext. 506 I C. 778.322.8967