Songs of Hope and Healing
QPAC, Concert Hall
“Songs of Hope and Healing” is an event… not just because of the range of ages within audience, but its collaboration of more than 400 artists in presentation of a smorgasbord celebration of stories and songs in concert fundraiser for the HEAL Foundation, which promotes arts education for young refugees. The joy of the benefit concert is immediately infectious, both through loveable, charismatic emcee Sharon Orapaleng and the melodic opener ‘We are the Future’ and following ‘I Sing Because I am Happy’ from the QPAC Choir.
And so the tone is set for an Act One journey through tranquil numbers from Brisbane’s Voices of Birralee youth arts organisation to a bounce along with The Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Brass Ensemble. Eclecticism features in Act Two as well, which opens to ‘Tribal Beat Sound System’ and a Bach/Zepplin mashup from contemporary percussion ensemble, Percussimo before progressing through an array of musical numbers.
As is noted in introduction to audience favourite a rousing Boxties-led celtic number ‘Mo Chile Mear’ (My Gallant Darling), to sing is a small act but almost a universal one and to share in the joy of artists united in celebration of our common humanity is not only a rich experience but a supremely moving one, cemented by the words of HEAL Chairperson Adele Rice AM, reminding of how much poorer we would without the richness of the contribution of refugees that have been welcomed to this country.
Affable headliner Isaiah Firebrace of X-Factor and Eurovision fame does not disappoint, especially when he closes Act One with his original song ‘Don’t Come Easy’ which suits his rich and mature voice. Indeed, not only do his smooth vocals shine through the high-energy track, accompanied by backing vocalists from the Aboriginal Centre for The Performing Arts, but they build beautifully with the instrumentation of Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra Camerata.
Certainly, “Songs of Hope and Healing” is a logistically ambitious undertaking, but it is an ambition realised for an important purpose. From the sounds of one of country’s finest concert musicians, Vietnamese-born Australian pianist Hoang Pham, to the quirky and energetic African song sounds of Tichawona Mashawa and Tibetan Tenzin Choegyal’s ‘Snow Lion’ about living fearlessly in times of upheaval and awakening your inner strength to face the challenges of life to see its infinite possibilities (which is an absolute highlight), the one-night-only event really is ‘FHEAL-good’ entertainment, especially knowing that so many of the performers have their own refugee stories. Its billing as a special benefit concert is true on many levels given the faith it inspires around ideas of courage and hope.