NAIDOC Week 2021

Byline: Hywel Sims

I can’t think of anything more timely than the theme for this year’s NAIDOC week;

Heal Country.

Over this past year, working with colleagues against considerable odds to bring music to as many parts of Australia as we can, I’ve watched the distance between our cities, our regions and our remote areas grow larger. Not just, I believe, because travel has been curtailed or withdrawn but also because, thrown into lockdowns, we’ve been forced back into our homes as our worlds grew smaller and watched with despair as the divisions that abound in our world (class, race, ethnicity, language, gender) have proliferated and deepened.

Strikingly, however, some of my First Nations friends and colleagues have talked about reconnecting with their countries and the richness this has added to their lives during these dark times.

As a singer, and as someone who has worked ‘in the arts’ for a number of years, I believe that art – and especially music – has a central role to play in our lives. Making or listening to music brings us together in a unique way and, at Musica Viva Australia, we spend a lot of our time helping children find the music inside so that, as they grow, they have a tool that’s essential for a well-rounded life. We also do our best to learn from the many examples provided to us by our First Nations colleagues and friends as we change how we work, how we make music and how we connect to others. In addition (and increasingly) we collaborate with First Nations artists to ensure that their stories – the first in this land – are included in every aspect of our daily determination to bring music to life.

Looking at the challenges before us can make the future seem insurmountable. But, taken one note at a time, I believe that progress becomes more possible. Even the most complicated musical work can be performed when you know the language and have the patience to practice. So, both in this NAIDOC week and in the many other weeks, months and years ahead, I hope we find the patience to do just that – to practice, to find the courage to fail and to discover the joy that comes for us all when music helps us make sense of the world. And I also hope that, working together with the First Peoples of these lands, we advance – if necessary, one note at a time – towards a time where their country is valued, understood and healed.

Hywel Sims,
Musica Viva Australia

NAIDOC Week 2021 takes place 4-11 July. Please visit the NAIDOC website to learn more about the theme for 2021, and the many events you can take part in.