The world premiere of Koolbardi wer Wardong was performed by West Australian Opera, West Australian Young Voices, Noongar Children’s Choir and the Western Australian Youth Orchestra, and was presented by WAO in association with WAYV, WAYO and the AWESOME Festival.

Gina Williams Koolbardi wer Wardong Koolbardi wer Wardong

These combined forces brought to life the traditional Noongar story of close friends Koolbardi the Magpie and Wardong the Crow. Sung in the Noongar language with surtitles, composers Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse have created a tuneful and engaging hour-long score for the youthful cast, with jazzy rhythms blending with the strings and winds of the orchestra, skilfully orchestrated by Chris Stone. The production was impressively held together by conductor Aaron Wyatt.

Despite Williams’ admitted nervousness in composing her first opera, this latest venture with her song-writing collaborator Ghouse has demonstrated a welcome deepening of links between the Australian arts industry and Indigenous culture. With fewer than 400 speakers, the Noongar language is in a precarious state, and Williams and...