WA is alive with Madjitil Moorna…

Madjitil Moorna

Madjitil Moorna (magical bush sounds) is a very special choir meeting weekly in Forrestfield. Singers include Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and sing works by First Nations songwriters and performers mainly in the Noongar language.

Award-winning Aboriginal songwriters and performers lead the group. 

The idea for an ‘Aboriginal Choir’ was hatched by Kalamunda Zig Zag Festival organisers in the Perth Hills, 15 years ago. 

In 2006 for the first time, a 13-week project focussed on Aboriginal culture. 

Thirty-five people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities rehearsed six Aboriginal songs for a performance at the Festival, led by Aboriginal singer/songwriters Della Rae Morrison and Jessie Lloyd. 

The large audience was very moved by the concept and the singing. The group was invited to sing at three more events on the strength of that one performance. Many people love to listen to the mix of soulful and joyous contemporary and more traditional songs. 

And so the choir was born.

Madjitil Moorna sings mostly contemporary songs written by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander songwriters who have kindly shared them with the choir and community. 

Many of the songs include different languages from across Australia, with most coming from the Noongar nation, in Australia’s South-West. 

The choir sings in the Noongar language to help build understanding, hope and joy.

Musical director and guitar accompanist Kobi has led the choir since 2015.

“I inherited the position from my family,” he said. “I’ve been learning Noongar since I was 15. Each choir member introduces themself in Noongar at the start of each practise session.”

“It is a community choir. Everybody is welcome to learn Noongar and sing.

“The language is a challenge, but to help we go through pronunciation of Noongar words at the start of every session.”

Deb Mitchell has been singing in the choir for two years.

“I had not been singing since primary school. I knew Kobi and I’m interested in the culture, so I decided to give it a go.

“It was difficult to sing in Noongar at first, but I became more relaxed with practise.”

In October the choir were asked to sing at the candlelit vigil for murder victim, Cassius Turvey, at Midland.

“It was a long and emotional night. There was a large mixed crowd with more than 1000 indigenous people there. We were pleased to be able to sing in their language and to provide some comfort and support for his mum,” said Deb.

The choir has also performed as part of the Perth Fringe Festival.

The choir is incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation. The management committee has both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members and oversees the working and directions of the choir. 

Under the constitution, there will always be an Aboriginal cultural mentor on the committee. A choir coordinator leads a team of volunteers handling every aspect of the management.

Madjitil Moorna practices on Monday nights at the Anderson Road Community Centre, 24 Anderson Rd, Forrestfield. It is a community choir and everybody is welcome whether they think they can sing or not. There is no audition.

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Frank Smith was trained as an agricultural scientist in the UK, moving to WA in 1974 and shortly afterwards began lecturing at WAIT (now Curtin University) in soils and agronomy. In 1979 he joined the Agriculture Protection Board in charge of publications and media relations, studying part time for a degree in Journalism. In 1992 he spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Later he ran a small publication company with his wife Mary-Helen. He then began freelance writing, editing and book indexing. He has written articles for more than 40 magazines in four continents and indexed more than 20 books. In 2007 he started writing for Have a Go News and gradually reduced his writing for other publications. He later took over the subediting, ensuring Have a Go News is consistent in style and highly readable. He and Mary-Helen live in a passive solar home in the Perth Hills with a varying collection of quendas and native birds.