Sydney Sacred Music Festival transcends division and fear

Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra - Victor ValdesIn a period of increasing sectarian violence, religious fanaticism, fear and intolerance, comes the calm, contemplative voice of the fourth Sydney Sacred Music Festival. Left, is Mexican baroque harpist Victor Valdes in final rehearsal at Blacktown before the festival opening concert at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, Friday, September 5, at 7.30pm. Victor is a member of the recently formed Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra, which will perform their newly created work three sides of love and death.

Festival director and orchestra member Richard Petkovic says “The three sides of love and death will explore the universal themes of unconditional love and rites of passage through the stories and sacred music practices of culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse artists who make up the orchestra. Using a collaborative process of experimentation and cultural exchange of experiences within diverse faith practices, this sacred symphony transcends the normative boundaries of culture and faith, producing an original new work and cultural entity that has appeal across communities and audiences.”

His statement illustraSyd Sacred Music Fest - Methodist-Church-of-Samoa-Blacktowntes the overall purpose of the festival. It aims to explore through music, art and ceremony, the values and spiritual experiences shared by humanity and to contemplate and communicate them with others. Richard says, “The Festival provides opportunities for the fantastic artists and traditions of our diverse communities and hopes to build its own community of open minded people who are interested in something larger than themselves.”

The festival continues to September 21 and includes a wide range of events and venues. This year, performances will be presented at Blacktown and Nepean Hospitals, Mount Druitt and Royal North Shore. Others will be at Auburn Centre for Community, Mosman Art Gallery, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Arcadia and Kenthurst in the Hills Shire, and in the Blue Mountains. The Samoan Methodist Choir of Blacktown, above, will perform at Blacktown Hospital. The festival is organised by the Cultural Arts Collective, established by Richard and fellow musicians in 2011.

Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra - 6 of 14 membersRichard is very proud that the 14 piece Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra has been assembled from artists in Western Sydney and features:

Asim Gorashi (Sudan) Sufi rituals through the use of the voice, violin, whistling and oud
Yaw Derkyi (Ghana) exploring Ghanaian animist rituals and percussion
Shohrat Tursun (East Turkistan) recognised master in 1,000 year old song cycles using voice and dutar
Mustafa Karami (Iraqi Kurd) sharing ancient Kurdish rituals and using the ney, duff, voice and oud
Bukhu Ganburged – Mongolian bard showcasing the ancient art of throat singing and horse fiddle
Victor Valdes – Mexican baroque harp
Ngoc Tuan Hoang – Vietnamese classical guitar
Nicholas Ng – Urhu (Chinese violin) and pipa
Gambirra Illume–Indigenous vocalist and ceremony
Mark Szeto – Double Bass
Richard Petkovic – Music director and cross cultural music facilitator on harmonium and guitar

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