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A singing pilgrimage into the heart of Australia

August 1-15, 2021

$6,750Aud

Per person, twin share.

Deposit: $1,500Aud (non refundable)

Balance payable 3 months before departure.

Single Room Supplement: $2,000 AUS, payable with final payment.

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Choir Director

Sue Johnson - composer, musical director and recording artist (vocalist, pianist and choral conductor) who has co-produced numerous CDs of original works with various artists and performed nationally and internationally.

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Tour Concept

SINGING TO THE HEART is a singing journey into the heart of Australia under the musical directorship of SUE JOHNSON, one the most original, inspiring and talented Australian choir directors. This extraordinary journey will travel not just to the physical heart of Australia, but to the heart of things; of nature, of people and of history.

In the tradition of Aboriginals who ‘sung up’ the country in order to give it meaning, Sue will bring both her original music and mastery of ‘improv’ to connect to landscape and people. Apart from being an extraordinary travel experience, this will be a musical tour de force.

After a glorious first five days in the remote South Australia town of Quorn, where we develop our repertoire, the choir travels and sings in remote Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities as well as in some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. 

This beautiful owl is just one of the friends you'll meet on the journey

The landscapes and places through which we travel and sing are some of the most powerful on earth: the majestic Flinders Ranges; the moonscapes of Coober Pedy; in the underground Serbian Church at Coober Pedy; under Uluru at sunset, in the remote Aboriginal Communities of Hermannsburg; in the ancient gorges of the MacDonnell Ranges and in classic Australian remote towns. 

This will be a gig of epic proportions, an incredible journey into a parallel universe, made accessible through the power of music to connect us on an individual and community level.

“Each man, woman and child should see the desert, just once before they die”

Raymond and friend relax in the desert

The Itinerary: 1 - 15 August 2021.

Just the bare bones! This program continually evolves to take advantage of the ever changing cultural landscape of the Australian desert. Any change in the itinerary will be designed to make the experience deeper and more powerful.. 

1 August - ADELAIDE - Pickup from the suggested Accommodation - Adabco Hotel. Depart around 8.30am.

1 - 6 August - QUORN, Flinders Ranges - 5 Days - Our accommodation is the brilliant Great Northern Lodge nestled behind the wonderful Emilys Bistro, a 100 year old Emporium where we will eat and rehearse daily. This wonderful little town which we use to access the surrounding Flinders Ranges, will welcome us into its heart. In turn we will perform for them on the final night. You won’t want to leave because on a very deep level this feels like home.

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6 -  8 August - COOBER PEDY - 2 Days - a fascinating place to explore opal mines and the incredible Breakaways before performing in the underground Serbian Church, one of the most unique devotional spaces on earth.

8 - 11 August - ULURU - 3 Days - Sing the sun down over Uluru before spending a day exploring Uluru [Ayers Rock] and Kata Tjuta. We spend this interlude in a ‘glamping situation’, with a big gorgeous fire to warm us and to sing around at night. We invite local Pitjantjarra elders to our fire to share song and stories.

11 - 15 August - ALICE SPRINGS - 5 Days - Alice Springs is a mix of incredible landscapes and powerful cultural cross currents. We will sing in gorges and in West Macdonell Ranges and rehearse with the famous Ntaria {Hermannsburg} Choir. We will connect musically with local Aboriginal people and perform on the last night somewhere extraordinary. We might
well have left the best for last.

15 August - Your journey ends at breakfast with coach links to the Alice Springs Airport and your onward flights.

CHOIR & GIG NOTES
The tour is for people who want to sing, there is no requirement for people to be professional singers. The attitude of the Choir is an immensely supportive one where practiced choristers and novices sing happily side-by-side. The gigs will be on a donation-at-the-door and support local causes. They will all be professionally marketed and supported with radio and press.

 

ACCOMMODATION NOTES
Mix of great star hotels and ‘glamping’ at Uluru. Limited single supplements will be available.


COACH & LUGGAGE NOTES
Our coaches are comfortable with frequent toilet stops. We ask that you keep your wardrobe to the practical side of lavish.

Your Leaders

SUE JOHNSON - www.suejohnson.com.au
Composer · Musician · Musical director · Academic
Singing to the Heart with Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson is a composer, musical director and recording artist (vocalist, pianist and choral conductor) who has co-produced numerous CDs of original works with various artists and performed nationally and internationally.

"One of the most mesmerising songs… is a composition by Sue Johnson called 'Sister My Sister'… part lullaby, part prayer, part celebration of the human voice."

Jessica Nicholas, The Age, 2004

Sue has co-founded vocal and improvisation groups (including award-winning Coco's Lunch and Morgana), collaborated with Australian authors (Elizabeth Honey, Sally Rippin, Meme McDonald, Rosalind Price) as well as numerous arts organisations (Musica Viva, Sydney Opera House, Jump Leads, Theatre Arts Export, The Boite).

 

"One of Australia's best exports…(Coco's Lunch)"

Vancouver Sun, Canada

She is also a composer for children's theatre, television and books including numerous seasons of Playhouse Disney. In 2008 her first book & audio CD with author Elizabeth Honey "Still Awake Still" published by Allen and Unwin was adapted into a theatre work touring the US and Australia directed by Jessica Wilson.


"So much for sleep… no one snoozes"

New York Times, 2014


“Still Awake Still! One of the most precious children's shows I've ever seen."

Kate Ceberano, Adelaide Cabaret Festival Director 2014

Sue's published vocal scores are recorded by choirs worldwide and have been sung by numerous USA all-state chorus'. She has completed commissions for massed voices, led vocal improvisations with audiences of 2000+, produced workshops and concerts in venues ranging from concert halls to yoga spaces and created singing groups in workplaces and community. She has just recorded a teaching resource of original chants and songs for choirs recorded by the Songrise Quartet to be published soon.


"In the Big Sing, Sue Johnson masterfully led the filled-to-brim Sydney Town Hall audience in an improvised canon. It was a truly amazing thing to hear."

Oral Majority

Sue lectured at the Victorian College of the Arts Improvisation department from 1990 – 1999 and has tutored at Melbourne University, presented at conferences (ASME, Children's Book Council, VMTA) and was artist in residence at many schools and festivals.

"'All The Wild Wonders' (easily one of their runaway hits, and with lyrics by author and poet Elizabeth Honey) was perhaps one of the most moving compositions heard at the Fest so far."

The Hindu, November Fest, India 2013

Sue has received numerous nominations and awards including Montsalvat Yalumba Jazz Medal (best young performer), APRA award nomination (with author Elizabeth Honey for most performed jazz work 2003) and nomination for Honouring Women in Moreland Award as well as Coco's Lunch nominations for the ARIAS 2007 (Best World Album & Best Children's Album) USA Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards (Runner-Up Best Folk/World Album), 2000 Australian World Music Awards (finalist Best Album)


"Sue Johnson's heartfelt tribute 'I Am Your Grandmother' is as good as anything I have heard by Sweet Honey in the Rock."

ABC Limelight Magazine, November 2007

RAYMOND HAWKINS - Tour Leader - www.soundtrackstravel.com.au, owner of SOUND TRACKS TRAVEL

Raymond Hawkins - owner of SOUND TRACKS TRAVEL - has operated ecletic tours all over Australia for decades. Before that he toured with some of Australia greatest bands - Midnight Oil, Cold Chisel and The Angels as tour manager, lighting designer and/or production manager. He has worked with Opera Australia, The Sydney Dance Company and ran the Audio/Visual Department at the Sydney Opera House. 
Raymond created the Burra Gospel & Soul Festivale, operates and designed the BackRoaders tours and ran the Desert Choir program with Tony Backhouse for almost a decade, and now designs extraordinary musical programs that delve deep into the social and cultural world through which they travel. He’s different, and so are his programs.

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ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES
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The choirs in the remote Aboriginal Communities of Indulkana and Hermannsburg have agreed to host us for workshops and joint singing sessions.
As such they are considered part of the team, an integral part as they will provide a chance to connect to an ancient civilization. In both locations we will be subject to the traditions and customs of these
Pitjantjarra and Arrentre people who still practise their complex set of laws and customs.

Singing provides a beautiful meeting point with Aboriginal people. It fits well into the notion of sharing culture which was an established part of traditional life.

Reviews 

The reviews below are an assortment of unsolicited responses to the inaugural Singing to the Heart program in 2019. At the end is a personal reflection from tour designer and Sound Tracks owner, Raymond Hawkins.

I have not let you know how deeply both Rochelle and I were affected by the whole experience. It’s hard to articulate, but when I got home and got up the next morning I realised I was looking at everything as though for the first time - it all seemed laden with new significance, and I trod the ground as though each footstep was almost a sacred act. I've been waxing lyrical about the whole trip to anyone who will listen ever since I got home. So thank you from my heart for creating such a transforming experience.

 

With our love Paul

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“I feel very privileged to have been part of this extraordinary journey of country, culture and people of Australia. Thanks for that opportunity and your insight into our country.”
 
- Sincerely Ann Bailey
As It Is In The Desert - An Amazin Experience
As It Is In The Desert - Meet some amazing people on this trip!

I don’t seem to have the words to truly express my appreciation for your wonderful visions and your ability to manifest such amazing experiences for people! It has been one of the most significant times of my life - one of love and deep healing.

ThankYOU blessings -  Carol xx

Hi Raymond, Wow what a trip!! What an undertaking and what a wonderful outcome! We reckon on reflection and processing of the many varied aspects and multi layered experiences of our two week adventure it has proven to be a winner. The opportunities that you presented and the risks that you took to embark on such a dream culminated in a tremendous journey. G & B

Beyond all expectation - visually, culturally and musically. It's a trip that no one else (but Raymond) could have put together because of his knowledge and feeling for these special places and special people. I really mean that. I think that will be one of life's highlights for me.

- Mary Dinnis

As It is in the Desert - Amazing Landscaps to see

I haven’t been able yet to process my experiences this trip. It really was profound and special. Thank you for having the vision. I feel so grateful to have been able to share in it.


Silvana


Dear Raymond,
Thanks to your passion for Country, People & Culture our Heartland adventure was packed with experiences that cannot be easily described. Now they can see and hear for themselves - and savour at least a taste of this fortnight-long banquet. 

Arohanui and many blessings from New Zealand,
Lynsey


Hi Raymond
I had been waiting to reply and thank you for a fantastic experience in the desert. I was trying to encapsulate the experience and what it meant to me. Then the video arrives and expresses so many of my thoughts and feelings. Thank you so much. Once again thanks for an unforgettable and thought provoking experience.


Regards, Peter

Hi Raymond,

The trip was as you say on my bucket list that I didn't even know. Love as always the connections that you put in place.
Heartfelt thanks from Liz Thanks, Raymond, for your vision and inspiration for getting this trip together - it was a
unique and amazing experience.


Kindest regards, Wendy

 


Hello Raymond
Raymond thank you for what was an incredible trip. I can’t imagine how much work went into organising it. It will stay close to my heart and there are many special moments that I will treasure. I could go on with superlatives but will leave it at that.


Xx Jane

Hi Raymond
The trip was really special in so many ways and was everything I had hoped for, especially our interactions with the local people. What a privilege to be able to share our music with the ladies at Hermannsburg and our time with Alison and her family. Thank you Raymond for creating the opportunity to meet members of the Aboriginal community in a place of
shared friendship and mutual respect. It was deeply meaningful for me.


Lynne x

Hi Raymond, thanks very much for the video - when I got home I was unable for about 2 weeks to tell my friends much about the journey as I just dissolved in tears every time. I had just about got myself in some sort of working order and the video arrived and I was crying all over again!!! I can only imagine the energy you put into that trip and the many
others that you organize and I thank you most sincerely for the experience I had and will never forget. 

Anna Wright

A personal perspective


Over years of leading choirs into beautiful places throughout Australia there have been many wondrous experiences: recitals in sea caves on the wild coast of Tasmania; pop-up gigs in remote pubs, in outback woolsheds and in lonely churches.


One such experience was so sublime that it has never left me, and it resonates still in the design of Singing to the Heart.


At night the desert landscape of Australia mirrors a Shakespearean set, landscape a principal player, stage lighting provided by moon and stars, theatre props of shadowed rocks and spikey grevillias. All the while a sub-plot underpins the scene, the sense that Indigenous people lived and conducted ceremony here for thousands of years. 

Raymond Hawkins

Tour Leader & Director

In a place like this, just six months from my father’s death, I listened to a choir sing around a campfire. In one beautiful piece my loss found its expression, a universal register for those feelings you feared were yours alone. At that moment sound was stripped to the elemental, attuned to a stark desert that demands sparseness in all things. At that perfect moment, around that fire, private grief morphed into something universal. It spoke to the transcendent power of song.

What's In and What's Out

The event INCLUDES:

  • 14 days/ 14 nights twin share accommodation {limited single supplements options exist}

  • 14 nights accommodation.

  • All transport in All-Terrain Coaches.

  • Daily workshops with Sue Johnson

  • All breakfasts and lunches except one lunch in Coober Pedy and two lunches in Alice Springs.

  • Four evening meals in Uluru and Alice Springs.

  • Aboriginal local interactions.

  • All side excursions, National Park fees.

  • Professionally promoted and stage managed performances and concerts.

  • Surprises you will just have to take my word for it.
     

The event EXCLUDES:

  • airfares to Adelaide and return from Alice Springs.

  • evening meals and lunches except as indicated above.

  • alcohol.

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