The Mungindi Music Festival brings together the best amateurs and professionals for a unique weekend of outdoor performances.

Story By Nick Cook

No concert hall or opera house in the world could possibly match the venue for the grand finale of the Mungindi Music Festival. The audience sits under the open sky, painted in twilight shades of orange and purple, while behind the stage the dark waters of the Barwon River flow lethargically. Off to one side the town’s single-lane wooden bridge, with one end in New South Wales and the other in Queensland, has been decked out in fairy lights, as have a number of nearby trees. The Sydney Youth Orchestra Philharmonic, made up of some of the nation’s best young classical performers, is at the front of the stage while a large choir of local community members is tiered behind them. The orchestra strikes up, unleashing a wave of sound that rolls over the audience, then the voices of the town rise together. “Welcome all to Mungindi, nestled on the Barwon,” they sing in almost-perfect unison. Their performance is excellent, the voices just rough enough at the edges to remind the listener they are not professional musicians but locals who have a genuine feel for the lyrics they deliver. “It’s sometimes hot, it’s sometimes cold. It might not rain but we’re coping with the drought … It’s Mungindi, our town.” It is the first public performance of Mungindi Mosaic, which was composed specially for the event. As the light gently fades the spotlit gum trees become more prominent and seem to lean towards the stage, as though they are listening with the same rapt attention as the audience.

This story excerpt is from Issue #56

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2008