Festival kicks off with ‘Tanderrum’ ceremony

Words and photo by Katie Wong Hoy

Thousands flocked to Federation Square on Thursday, October 8 for “Tanderrum”, the opening ceremony of the Melbourne Festival 2015.

Traditional indigenous chants, clap sticks and smoke filled the air, entrancing the crowd as the five clans of the Kulin Nation united for the ceremony.

Musical director of Tanderrum and Melbourne Festival ambassador, James Henry said it was satisfying to see the performance come together.

“To be able to show all that hard work to such a large, responsive audience in Melbourne, it just felt extra special,” Mr Henry said.

“It was amazing to see everyone … feeling very proud and confident to be able to put on their show for themselves and for the audience.”

It was the third time Tanderrum has opened the Melbourne Festival, with preparations starting in June this year. Josephine Ridge has been appointed creative director of the Melbourne Festival for the past three festivals. 

Tanderrum came about after a discussion she had in 2012 with Rachael Maza, the artistic director for Ilbijerri Theatre Company.

“When we held that (first Tanderrum) in October 2013, it was actually the first time since 1835 that all five clans had come together and done a joint ceremony in the City of Melbourne,” Ms Ridge said.

The Melbourne Festival is in its 30th year and ran from October 8 to October 25.

Some highlights included a musical theatre performance of The Rabbits, a live adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 and the world premiere of the visual art exhibition Secret Garden.

Ms Ridge said the Melbourne Festival would draw a lot of people into the CBD and offered high quality entertainment to benefit the people of Melbourne.

“We just provide great entertainment and a really positive energy because I think people work hard … so it’s really important that in their spare time we can offer them something that’s really enriching, inspirational and very often just a lot of fun,” Ms Ridge said.

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