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The rhythm of Ethno about to hit Australia


Steve Spinks
13 December 2011
World-renowned yodellers, accordionists, fiddlers and percussionists are just some of the musicians that will combine for performances at the Gold Coast, Lismore, Brisbane and Woodford when the Gold Coast hosts the first ever Ethno Australia from December 14.

Ethno Australia, which has been sponsored by Southern Cross University’s Research Centre for Tourism, Leisure and Work and School of Arts and Social Sciences, the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre and world music organisation the Wantok Foundation, will bring together more than 40 folk musicians from around the world to collaborate and exchange ideas in a 14-day intensive music program.

The camp will see the musicians taking the stage regularly around South East Queensland and Northern NSW. They will start with a prelude performance to the Coolangatta Christmas Carols at Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta, on December 18. On December 22, all of the musicians will perform for a live audience which will be recorded at Studio129 at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus. On December 23, Ethno will perform at King George Square in Brisbane as part of the Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre’s World By Night Festival and then from December 27 the musicians will head north to perform at the acclaimed Woodford Folk Festival in front of thousands of spectators.

The Ethno movement is well known in Europe – with annual camps in Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England, Estonia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Sweden and Uganda – but this is the first Ethno camp to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. Ethno is a project whereby traditional/folk musicians from a range of countries and aged between 15 and 28 meet to teach other, by ear, traditional folk songs from their respective cultures. This is done through a combination of workshops, jam sessions, seminars and performances.

Ethno Australia will include musicians from India, Thailand, Europe, Polynesia, Melanesia, Brazil, Chile, Israel and Australia. Ethno Australia is one of a number of projects that have been organised through the Southern Gold Coast Music Hub, a partnership between Southern Cross University and Connecting Southern Gold Coast which was launched last year.

Professor Kerry Brown, director of Southern Cross University’s Research Centre for Tourism, Leisure and Work, is looking forward to the first Southern Hemisphere Ethno Camp.

“This is a new and exciting concept for Australia which will provide an opportunity for rich research into emergent global networks for cultural exchange and music,” she said.

“The Research Centre for Tourism, Leisure and Work is delighted to host the first Ethno event in Australia and looks forward to showcasing the Southern Gold Coast to international visitors.”

Head of School and Dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University, Professor Mike Evans, agreed that research opportunities would be a welcome outcome from the unique music event.

“The School of Arts and Social Sciences is delighted that our fantastic concert space in Studio129 can help Southern Cross University establish a research presence in this space,” he said.

“Researchers in our contemporary music program, across the School, and University can benefit from initiatives like this one.”

Ben Farr-Wharton, of the Research Centre is co-ordinating the event. The musicians will be staying at the Currumbin Valley Community Farm while on the Gold Coast.

Photo: Performers at a recent Ethno camp.