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Crossing Roper Bar Volume 1

by Australian Art Orchestra | Young Wägilak Group

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in a gatefold card case.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Crossing Roper Bar Volume 1 via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 14 days

      $20 AUD or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $12 AUD  or more


Gara 04:02
Galpu & Raki 03:48
Malga 03:45
Wata 09:33
Birrk Birrk 22:55


The Manikay (song cycles) of the Yolngu represent one of the most affecting performance traditions from the oldest living culture on Earth. Since 2005 Benjamin Wilfred and the Young Wagilak Group have worked closely with the AAO to develop contemporary renderings of endangered cultural artifacts extremely precious and significant to Yolngu culture.

This album, recorded at Alan Eaton Studios during the 2009 Melbourne residency, is another exciting step towards the project’s goals to offer wider audiences a unique insight into their culture while showing a way forward for young people wishing to engage with the traditions of the living Elders and their ancestors.

Crossing Roper Bar is a visionary exploration of the musical traditions of Australia’s first people by the Australian Art Orchestra in collaboration with the Young Wagilak Group. The Wagilak speaking songmen of South East Arnhem Land are custodians of one of the oldest continuously practised cultures on Earth. Their songs are performed regularly in Ngukurr, Numbulwar, Groote Eylandt and surrounding areas where the Wagilak are admired for their strong culture.

The Australian Art Orchestra began collaborating with the Young Wagilak Group in 2005. Based on an equal exchange of knowledge that began as a dialogue centred on music, Crossing Roper Bar developed into a process of collaborative composition that retains the beauty and dynamism of both traditions. The Young Wagilak Group have worked closely with the AAO to create a contemporary interpretation of ‘Wild Blackfella’, a song cycle which traces the journey of the ancestor through his country as he calls up and names things.

An electrifying marriage of the very old with the very new, Crossing Roper Bar is a celebration of country, of ceremony, and of the power of music to build enduring bridges across cultures, time and space.


released January 1, 2010

Alto Flute, Bass Clarinet, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Tony Hicks (3)
Co-producer – Nikolaus Schäuble
Didgeridoo – David Wilfred*
Didgeridoo, Percussion, Vocals – Benjamin Wilfred
Double Bass – Philip Rex
Drums, Percussion – Nikolaus Schäuble
Electric Guitar – Stephen Magnusson
Engineer – Ross Cockle
Keyboards – Paul Grabowsky
Mastered By – Philip Rex
Mixed By – Nikolaus Schäuble
Percussion, Vocals – Roy Wilfred
Producer – Paul Grabowsky
Viola, Violin – Erkki Veltheim
Vocals – Wesley Wilfred

Traditional Wagilak songs (from remote SE Arnhem Land) arranged collectively by the performers.


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Australian Art Orchestra Australia

With an emphasis on improvisation, the AAO explores the meeting points between disciplines and cultures, and imagines new musical forms to reflect the energy and diversity of 21st century Australia. The AAO explores the interstices between the avant-garde and the traditional, between art and popular music, and between electronic and acoustic approaches. ... more

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