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Bringing live music to Croker Island

It’s Musica Viva in Schools' (MVIS) aim to bring quality music education to as many students in Australia as it can reach. And in June this year, MVIS reached further than ever when its resident mini-gamelan ensemble Makukuhan travelled to visit the 70 students of Mamaruni School in Minjilang, the main community on Croker Island. Situated 200km northeast of Darwin where the Arafura Sea meets the Timor Sea, Croker Island belongs to its traditional owners, the Yarmirr people, and is one of the most remote areas in Australia with a population of just 300.

The rich history of cultural exchange between Indonesians and the ‘top end’s’ Indigenous people made Makukuhan a most appropriate group to present MVIS’ first concert on Croker Island. And for most of the students, attending this was their first encounter with these diverse range of instruments including bronze gongs, pitch-bending drums and the metallophone.

Makukuhan performed for students and community members followed by a hands-on workshop that included experimenting on gongs and metallophone, practising Javanese clapping and getting up close with traditional masks.

Musica Viva In Schools was able to visit this remote school location thanks to an individual donor, whose support, combined with funds to tour the Northern Territory from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, enabled us to bring a new musical experience to these students and the community of Minjilang.

"Music Viva allowed us to present an experience that many of our students and community members could never have imagined. Being such a remote community, we often miss out on opportunities that other communities have access to…Our goal is to provide as many opportunities for our students that connect them to the outside world and support them to become global citizens…to experience a music workshop and live concert… allowed them to connect with a different culture and learn more about life in a different country…. Please know our students gained so much from the experience and it will be something that is spoken about for many years to come”.

– Shona Harris, Principal, Mamaruni School