Friday, December 12, 2014

Fijian choir in Canberra's Parliament House

An odd look at a Fijian choir singing at Canberra's Parliament House. - and a response in a Letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times:

Kadavu Choir Down Under
WITH the teaser "Woo hoo the choir has arrived" and a photo of the 42-member Kadavu Choir dressed in kala vata standing in front of a beautiful painting, that had served as background to different world leaders while they delivered speeches from the Great Hall of the Australian Parliament, no one would've guessed this was the political comic column of the Canberra Times.
The Kadavu choir definitely expected their performance to woo the hundreds of everyday visitors and workers at Parliament but, they never expected it to become politicised to make fun of the Honourable Members and provide humour to readers of the Canberra Times.
Well done to the Kadavu Choir for a wonderful performance and well done to the brilliant reporter who used their performance as a focal point for a fantastic political humour piece, while being very careful not to insult the choir.
Instead, remarked that their Christian songs cleansed and exorcised Parliament House after a sinful parliamentary year.
I know our own Parliament is also in much need of cleansing.
Too bad Kadavu Choir can't do that as we're a secular state now so, we should just leave the cleansing to the cleaners.
SAMUELA SAVU, Canberra, Australia

Gang-gang: Fijian choir cleanses Parly House
Date December 8, 2014     Ian Warden     Columnist for The Canberra Times
Heavenly voices: Fiji's Kadavu Choir perform at The Great Hall, Parliament House. Photo: Jay Cronan
How clever of Parliament House's administrators, how appropriate of them, to bring in a powerful, cleansing Christian choir to sing there, the minute the parliamentary year is over.
On Monday the 40-strong Fijian choir was strikingly clad in costumes of aquamarine (perhaps suggesting the pellucid South Pacific that laps Fiji's shores). In the cavernous but acoustically well-blessed Great Hall the Kadavu Choir performed its Christmas carols and other festive and soothing Christian songs. The sinful parliamentary year is only just over and one could almost feel the choir's Christian singings going out from the Great Hall and coursing through the premises like a legion of acoustic exorcists, driving out the year's demons, cleaning away the drifts of a year's lies and skulduggeries. Surely that was why Parliament House's administrators had invited the choir of Methodists, and at this time, the very first weekday after parliament's rising.
We were too shy to put that perhaps controversial analysis to the choir's chairman Mr Ratuvuki. Instead we asked him to tell us all about his choir.
He explains that the Suva-based choir was formed in 1979 and has been in continuous existence ever since, with, of course, ever replenishing recruits of new choristers. They are all Methodists and on the third Sunday of every month they take part in a church service somewhere in the province. This church service is a tradition now, begun in the 1970s and after punishing cyclones that killed people and ravaged homes. The services were instituted to, in his words, "achieve security [against cyclones] from the Father in Heaven".
Yes, and it is hard to imagine God, famously appreciative of fine music, being able to ignore a church service involving the Kadavu Choir. On Monday their singing was very, very beautiful, sometimes passionate and exuberant (oodles of happy hallelujahs) but always at the same time polished and disciplined.
Their complex version of Jingle Bells (a little eccentric for a choir of folk who cannot possibly know, in Fiji, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh) was enormous fun. Their Go, tell it on the mountain, Lord was rapturous and had the atheists among us envying the happy choristers the boon of the faith brought to them so long ago by Methodist missionaries.
Then the male choristers, left alone in the great space beneath and in front of Arthur Boyd's terrific Great Hall tapestry, sang movingly about their brother Joseph's plight as he walked towards Bethlehem.
All of this Christian loveliness seemed to us to put the cleaners through hitherto politics-begrimed Parliament House.

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