Arafura Wind Ensemble: The Bombing of the Top End

23 April 2022

@ 17:30

- 19:00

A Free 80th Anniversary Concert—A Homage, from Engagement to Peace

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the bombing of the Top End, the Arafura Wind Ensemble has put together an extraordinary musical program—A Homage, from Engagement to Peace. “This special free concert will be presented on 23 April by up to 30 musicians with narrator,” says Chief Executive Eric Holowacz, “and is free and open to all. So please join us at Godinymayin at 5:30pm for an extraordinary combination of music and history.” 

As the 1940s began, Australia was living with the realities of a world war and growing Pacific threats. Europe was already in turmoil, Pearl Harbour had just been bombed, Singapore had fallen, and Darwin was soon to come under attack. One of the things that kept people connected and happy was music. And by the time that peace was finally declared in September 1945, the bands played on and a new era had begun. 

Let yourself be transported back to another era—a time when Australia had embraced the sounds of big band, jazz, latin and swing music. The Arafura Wind players begin the evening there, before taking our Katherine audience on a musical journey through the other side of war-time. It was an age when Darwin residents flocked to the popular Star Theatre for moving pictures with Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. The radio waves were filled by the likes of Vera Lynn, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and The Andrews Sisters. 

Artistic Director Stephen Pevely and ensemble musician Vicktor Petroff close the program with Darwin 1942, a nearly 7-minute work composed by Cathy Applegate to commemorate those turbulent times—and the calm that followed. Her work has been called “majestic, mournful and plaintive” and was recently commissioned for the City of Darwin’s 80th anniversary observation. The program also includes an adaptation of a song written in Darwin in February 1942 called Dry Those Little Tears and Smile Again (seemingly lost then found in the archives of the National Library) and the wonderful Largo for Symphony Group by Japanese composer Satoshi Yagisawa.

Founded in 1993, the Arafura Wind Ensemble is a symphonic wind band based in Darwin. A mainstay in Top End musical circles, this concert band comprises volunteer musicians who love to bring a contemporary range of music to their eager audiences.  Most concert band repertoire was composed in the twentieth century and offers a diverse range of styles and genres.

Arafura Wind Ensemble is the only community-based concert band in the Top End, and enjoys a busy performance schedule in and around the Territory capital and Palmerston. Since its foundation, championed by musician, teacher and Palmerston resident, John Young—Arafura have performed at venues and events throughout the Top End, including Government House, World Solar Car Challenge, ANZAC Day and Australia Day functions as well as civic, school and community concerts.

The ensemble comprises between twenty-five and thirty-five musicians who come together from all walks of life to enjoy community music making. True to its original charter, Arafura Wind Ensemble provides an ongoing performance avenue for all musicians in the Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield communities—with programs that range from the classics to Broadway, popular and traditional, jazz and even marches. This 23 April concert in Katherine is free and open to all, and no reservations are required. All of the players of Arafura Wind Ensemble and your friends at Godinymayin look forward to seeing you for a very special musical evening.

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