Three Songs For a City
In late 1997 we were commissioned by Mark Dunbar, the conductor of Canto Coro to write a piece for their 1998 season to accompany Canto Para Una Semilla, a work by the Chilean composer Luis Advis, setting poems by Violeta Parra.
We wrote Three Songs for a City over the summer of 1998, including initial drafts made while camping on the beach at Evans Head.
Composers' program note
In Three Songs for a City we were very happy to have the opportunity to explore some of the issues that we had been thinking about for a long time; the contradictory feelings we have about our own city of Brisbane, (‘Sounds of a Town’), the experiences of migration and feeling ‘at home’ (‘Últimas Golondrinas’) and specifically to write a song (‘Brisbane Barrio’) for those workers at a factory who had the courage to fight racism in their workplace.
Over many years our interest in Latin American music has led us down many interesting paths leading to friendships, performances and shared experiences. We based this work on three styles — samba, chacarera, and son — from different parts of Latin America, styles which continue to excite us. We hope the work contributes to a feeling of solidarity that bridges cultural difference.
The premiere of Three Songs for a City was given at the BEMAC Space in Kangaroo Point on April 19, 1998. We had a 5 performance season ending on April 26.
It was performed again this year as part of ‘Cancion Colectiva’, Canto Coro's concert season. Part of this included two enjoyable out-of-town gigs, singing at Woodridge–Rodelu Soccer Club and at Beerwah State High School.
Other performances were given during 1998 at Camp Solidarity, the Brisbane picket during the dispute between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patricks. Later we sang the work at the annual caberet of the Committee in Solidarity with Latin America and the Caribbean, a Latin American and African Festival at the Annerley Community Centre and again at a function for the Latin American Women's Support Group. At the end of the year we gave two performances at the Woodford Folk Festival.
Mark Dunbar conducted the performances, with Mark Shortis filling in for the Festival at Annerley and the Latin American Women's Group function. In 1998 the musicians were: Layla Majewski — flute, Sue Monk — guitar, Justo Diaz — cavaquinho, quena, bombo and requinto, and Jane Elliot — cello. Mark Shortis played the cowbell in Brisbane Barrio. In the repeat performance in 2000, Wendy Rowlands played piano.