If you were lucky enough to have the opportunity to share our ‘BYO and Valla Voices Unite’ event at the Bellingen Memorial hall, you certainly would not have been disappointed.

There were so many stand out performances yesterday, but without a doubt, a highlight of the afternoon was when the incredible Valla Voices performed ‘Ratoh Duek’ an Acehnese traditional song and dance. Sung by Alfira and Murtala from Suara Indonesia Dance. It was a particularly poignant occasion for Valla Voices as it was their last ever concert. Valla Voices were established in 2015 by Paul Jarman and Bonnie Nilson. In 2018, BYO assistant conductor Pru Borgert joined the team. They have achieved extraordinary success in their short time together, and the Bellingen Youth Orchestra were certainly honoured to be sharing the stage with them for their final song when they collectively performed Ancient City – composed by Paul Jarman.

James Pollard, a rising star in the world of conducting, led the BYO with passion and enthusiasm as he skilfully navigated John Williams ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc Main Theme. His connection with our BYO musicians was evident in every gesture. It is always such a joy to watch young James conduct his fellow players. With huge thanks to our NSW Government for their support of this event and ensuring that local rural areas still maintain access to high quality events and musical opporttunities.

What an honour it was to sit and reflect on how very lucky we are in this great country of ours, as we bathed in the sombre sounds of Jenkins ‘Benedictus from The Armed Man. ‘The Armed Man charts the growing menace of a descent into war, interspersed with moments of reflection; shows the horrors that war brings; and ends with the hope for peace in a new millennium, when ‘sorrow, pain and death can be overcome’. The Bellingen Youth Orchestra played this composition beautifully, joined by soloist Sinfonia director Elizabeth Neville. This was a bittersweet moment for the BYO as this will be the last time Liz joins us at a concert. Sadly, Liz is returning to Sydney, a difficult decision for her and certainly a great loss for us. Make sure you have a quiet moment in your day to sit and listen to this composition, giving it the focus, it deserves. Thank you to Valla Voices for bringing the mass to life and tears to our eyes.

With thanks to the Bellingen Shire Council and NSW Government for their support! Their support ensures musical opportunities like this are continued to be shared within our regional and rural communities.


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