The Black Arm Band ‘murundak’

The Black Arm Band

In its UK premier and first performance outside Australia, 28-piece ensemble The Black Arm Band brings its show entitled ‘murundak’ to the Royal Festival Hall as part of Lift Festival 2008. The company’s mission is to perform, promote and celebrate contemporary Australian indigenous music.

A Celebration of Aboriginal culture at
Southbank Centre as part of Lift Festival 2008

THE BLACK ARM BAND presents the British premier of MURUNDAK
With an introduction by Pete Postlethwaite

Thursday 26 June 2008, Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm, Tickets £15 – £30

“Indigenous songwriters have produced a wealth of powerful and moving work – reflecting the cathartic experience of Australian history. murundak displays the breadth of this creative outpouring.” Peter Garrett, Australian Minister for Environment, Heritage and The Arts

In its UK premier and first performance outside Australia, 28-piece ensemble THE BLACK ARM BAND brings its show entitled murundak (meaning ‘alive’ in the Woiwurrung language) to the Royal Festival Hall. The company’s mission is to perform, promote and celebrate contemporary Australian indigenous music and stands as a symbol of resilience and hope in the spirit and action of reconciliation. This echoes the sentiments in the Australian Prime Minister’s recent apology to the Aboriginal people.

murundak was the stand-out event at WOMADelaide in March 2008, and is part of LIFT FESTIVAL 2008 (12 June – 23 August). One of Europe’s leading arts festivals and formerly known as London International Festival of Theatre, Lift arrives at Southbank Centre this summer for its first festival since 2001. The festival also includes powerful international performances from Lemi Ponifasio / MAU, Tara Cheyenne Performance and Living Dance Studio, and sees the launch of The Lift – the interactive Lift Festival hub and new venue.

THE BLACK ARM BAND is a living, breathing and social memoir, tracking the history of Aboriginal resistance through song. The project brings together many of indigenous music’s key players in a mass gathering. With a sweeping, multi-media backdrop of images and documentary film footage from the 1950s until now, murundak contains great anthems performed by an extraordinary, unprecedented line-up of Aboriginal songwriters and musicians and their collaborators. Artists include Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Shane Howard, Dan Sultan and Mark Atkins, to name only a few (full line-up details below).

The songs performed in this special event are some of the key cornerstones of the soundtrack of contemporary Aboriginal life. They are an essential part of Australian folklore. Songs that tell of a big story, of a big hearted people, ‘crying out to be heard’. Tales of the tragedies and triumphs of Aboriginal experience.

“THE BLACK ARM BAND reminds me of the long struggle and the long journey we’ve been on. 30 years ago we were marching for justice down the city streets, but now we’re telling our stories in the concert halls.” Archie Roach (THE BLACK ARM BAND)

“What’s great about THE BLACK ARM BAND is it gives us the opportunity to reflect on the last 20 to 30 years of Aboriginal history in song. Most of these artists work in isolation and it’s great to bring everyone together… there’s a great sense of camaraderie and support because everyone has been crossing paths for the last 30 years as well, and interacting and working together.” Shane Howard (Co-musical Director, THE BLACK ARM BAND)

A number of indigenous artists in THE BLACK ARM BAND are members of the ‘Stolen Generations’ of young Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents in a policy of assimilation which lasted from the 19th century to the early 1970s.

On Wednesday 14 February 2008 Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered a historic formal apology to the Aboriginal people of Australia on behalf of its parliament and government for the past wrongs caused by successive governments on the indigenous Aboriginal population, singling out the ‘Stolen Generations’ of thousands of children forcibly removed from their families.

How to deal with the continuing effects of colonialism on the lives of the first Australians remains an unavoidable, central and enduring moral issue for both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians and continues to inspire this project. As noted by actor Pete Postlethwaite (In the Name of the Father, Brassed Off) who will introduce the concert, the story of Australian indigenous struggle “Forced me to look at myself as an Englishman, to look at my Englishness and to confront the role that my country played in Australian history and particularly in the first nation, the Aboriginal history…”
Featured Artists: Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Shane Howard, Dan Sultan, Bart Willoughby, Dave Arden, Emma Donovan, Joe Geia, Kutcha Edwards, Lou Bennett, Mark Atkins, Rachel Maza Long, Stephen Pigram, Ursula Yovich, Peter Rotumah

Core Band: Aaron Choulai (piano), Rory McDougall (drums), Michael Meagher (bass), Eugene Ball (trumpet) Jason Yarde UK (sax) leading an 8 piece UK based horn and string section

Following on from the Royal Festival Hall concert, BLACK ARM BAND member and one of the world’s finest didgeridoo players, Mark Atkins, performs in The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday 27 June at 5.30pm. Admission is free and this is a one-off opportunity to hear an exceptional musician and storyteller in intimate surroundings live. Mark Atkins is recognised nationally and internationally for his collaborative projects with some of the leading composers and musicians including Philip Glass, John Williamson, Sinead O’Connor and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.

For further press information and images please contact
Sabine Kindel on 020 7921 0917, email or Miles Evans on 020 7921 0676, email

Southbank Centre Ticket Office 0871 663 2500 /

Listings Information

Part of Lift Festival 2008
Thursday 26 June 2008, Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, 7.30pm
Tickets £30 £25 £20 £15
Ticket Office: 0871 663 2500 / Book online

Mark Atkins
Friday 27 June 2008, The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, 5.30pm
Admission Free

Liyarn Ngarn screening
Friday 27 June 2008, The Lift, Southbank Centre Square, 8pm
Tickets £ 3
Pete Postlethwaite and Archie Roach will be attending this screening.

Region: All
Start Date: 26/06/2008
End Date: 26/06/2008
Start Time: 19.30
Press Tickets: Not Available
Sponsorship: Not Available
Press Tickets:
Name: Sabine Kindel
Phone: 020 7921 0917