NAIDOC week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across Australia. This year’s theme is For Our Elders. From the NAIDOC week website:
‘Our Elders are cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, leaders, hard workers and our loved ones. We draw strength from their knowledge and experience, in everything from land management, cultural knowledge to justice and human rights.’
AYO is incredibly proud to be performing the orchestral premiere of Ngapa William Cooper, a work celebrating the strength and courage of a man who devoted his life to advocating for the rights of Aboriginal people.
This work first emerged out of the collaboration between composer Nigel Westlake and singer-songwriter Lior. Lior first came across Uncle William Cooper’s story through his cousin, who works at the Melbourne Holocaust Museum.
William Cooper was one of the founding members of the Australian Aborigines League, which was later incorporated into the Aboriginal Advancement League. In addition to fighting for the rights of his people, William Cooper led the only non-Jewish protest against the events of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass in Germany. This event was one of the first violent turning points in the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jewish people.
As Lior and Nigel Westlake continued to explore the project, they began co-writing with Dr Lou Bennett AM. Bennett is a busy academic and performer who co-founded the not-for-profit performing arts organisation Black Arm Band. She is a Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung woman from Echuca in Victoria, and completed her PhD on Aboriginal language retrieval and regeneration through the medium of art. In a serendipitous twist, Ngapa William Cooper is Bennett’s great-great-grand-uncle.
Ngapa William Cooper spent his life advocating for the rights of First Nations peoples, and his work inspired the generation of Aboriginal leaders who followed. To learn more about this significant figure in Australia’s history, check out the articles below!
William Cooper – A Leader of Leaders
The Conversation: William Cooper: the Indigenous leader who petitioned the king, demanding a Voice to Parliament in the 1930s
William Cooper protests
Thinking Black: A New Biography of William Cooper
To find our more about NAIDOC week and how you can get involved, head to the NAIDOC week website
Ngapa William Cooper will be performed in Canberra and Sydney
Llewellyn Hall, Canberra/ Ngunnawal Country
Sunday 9 July, 5:00pm AEST
Sydney Opera House, Sydney/ Tubowgule
Monday 10 July, 8:00pm AEST
BlakTix (discounted tickets reserved for people who identify as being of First Nations descent) are available for both performances. No proof of eligibility is required and booking is at the discretion of the purchaser.
To purchase Canberra tickets, use this dedicated link, or enter code AYOTIX at check out
To purchase Sydney tickets, select BlakTix from the ticketing page