Ngapa William Cooper

Australian Youth Orchestra
Composed and written by Nigel Westlake, Lior and Lou Bennett, with additional creative lyric content by Sarah Gory

Join the Australian Youth Orchestra in Canberra as they perform three sweeping works inspired by Australian stories and the tenacity of the human spirit in times of darkness.

Ngapa William Cooper was born out of a rich collaboration between composer Nigel Westlake, singer-songwriter Lior, and performer and academic Dr Lou Bennett AM. With Westlake leading from the podium, these acclaimed artists will bring their dynamic stage presence to the orchestral premiere commissioned by AYO.

Ngapa William Cooper explores the strength and compassion of Yorta Yorta activist Uncle William Cooper. In 1938, Cooper led the Australian Aborigines’ League through the streets of Melbourne in the only non-Jewish protest worldwide against the events of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany. Using English and Yorta Yorta language, it is a celebration of a man who left behind a ‘legacy of resistance, solidarity and empathy’.

The performance opens with Westlake’s The Glass Soldier, originally written for Hannie Rayson’s play of the same name. It is dedicated to the memory Nelson Ferguson, a WW1 veteran and Ballarat artist, and was commissioned by Ferguson’s grandson Don Farrands.

This will be followed by Beneath the Waves, the distillation of Westlake’s score for 2022 motion picture Blueback. Star cellist Sharon Grigoryan will feature as soloist. Blueback takes its story from Tim Winton’s 1997 novel and follows a mother and daughter’s fight to protect Australia’s precious coral reefs.

The Glass Soldier – Suite

Beneath the Waves (orchestral premiere)
Cello soloist: Sharon Grigoryan

Nigel WESTLAKE, LIOR, Lou BENNETT, additional lyric content Sarah GORY                                        
Ngapa William Cooper (orchestral premiere)

Llewellyn Hall, Canberra / Ngunnawal / Ngambri country
Sunday 9 July
5pm AEST

Sydney Opera House, Sydney / Tubowgule
Monday 10 July
8pm AEST


Nigel Westlake

Conductor & Composer
Nigel Westlake

Sharon Grigorian

Cello Soloist
Sharon Grigoryan

Dr Lou Bennett AM