MUSIC TRADITION: A still from the 2017 film The Song Keepers, which delves into the rich history of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir.
MUSIC TRADITION: A still from the 2017 film The Song Keepers, which delves into the rich history of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir. SUPPLIED

The Song Keepers, a unique story of tradition, on screen

CENTRAL Australia's answer to The Buena Vista Social Club, The Song Keepers documentary by Naina Sen tells the inspiring story of an Aboriginal women's choir and their first tour of Germany.

In the churches of remote Central Australia, a 140-year musical legacy of ancient Aboriginal languages, German sacred hymns and baroque music is being preserved by four generations of women that make up the Central Australian Aboriginal Women's Choir.

German Lutheran missionaries arrived in Hermannsburg in 1877. The Lutherans showed great respect for the traditional owners and their cultures. These missionaries were outstanding in protecting their flock from physical threats, as well as preserving the languages and safeguarding the children.

The mission was conceived as an Aboriginal mission by Hermann Kemp and Wilhelm F. Schwarz of the German Hermannsburg Mission who had traveled overland from the Barossa Valley to live among the Aranda people.

Pastor Carl Strehlow and his wife Frieda took over in 1894. 

They soon constructed a school house, which was also used as a chapel and it was at this time that Hermannsburg's most famous son, painter Albert Namatjira, was born into the small community of about 100.

The Aboriginal people reciprocated by embracing the Christian stories and music alongside their own and many were baptised.

This film shows an Aboriginal women's choir travelling to Germany to perform baroque Lutheran hymns their traditional language.


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