Belun malu means ‘friendship’, and that is the heart of this project—to foster the ongoing friendship between Australia and Timor Leste through the joy of singing and playing music together. It brings singers from the Bega Valley together with the communities of Natarbora, Maliana, Lacluta and Dili in Timor Leste.
Over nearly a decade, the Belun Malu Choirs Project has inspired young Timorese students to undertake further musical study at home and abroad, in turn bringing that music home to share in their own communities.
The project began when the Bega Valley Advocates for Timor Leste (BVATL) signed a friendship agreement with the sub-district of Barique-Natarbora in 2004.
In 2010, following a visit to Timor Leste, Bega Valley Advocate Dave Crowden initiated the Instruments for Timor program which saw over 150 musical instruments gifted to the youth of Natarbora.
In 2012, the Timorese Koro Loriko choir, led by Ego Lemos and choir master Paolo Pereria, toured Australia with the Boite’s Millennium Choir, with the support of BVATL and several other friendship groups. Two of the choir members then performed in the Bega Valley (Ego Lemos has since performed at the 2018 Cobargo Folk Festival). Dave Crowden and Tim Holt visited Natarbora in July 2017, to create music with school children in the area and to sow the seeds of the Choirs project.
After discussions with Ego Lemos, the Belun Malu Choirs Project was born.
There are two components of the Project. Stage One saw a choir from the Bega Valley travel to Timor Leste in July 2019. The 22-member choir performed in Dili, then travelled to the rural regions of Soiabada, Natarbora, Lacluta, Maliana and several smaller communities with school visits and performances also part of the itinerary. There were also collaborations with several Timorese choirs throughout the visit, including with a youth choir in Dili. This highly successful visit was fully self-funded by the individual choir members. Read Georgina Adamson’s reflections from the trip in the September 2019 Triangle.
Stage Two will see an 18-member Timorese choir travel to Australia in late February 2020. Members are being selected from the Maliana and Gracias choirs in Dili, with six singers from Barique Natarbora, including one from Lacluta.
While in Australia, the choir will perform at several high profile events, including the Port Fairy Folk Festival, the Cobargo Folk Festival and the Four Winds Festival. Additional concerts and school visits are being organised through Timorese friendship groups in NSW and Victoria.
Of course funds are necessary to make this project a reality and donations will be gratefully received. There will also be fundraising events.
For more information you can contact Tim Holt on 0416 644 869 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dave Crowden on 0404 359 631 or email@example.com.