In November 2021, the Ntaria Choir set off for the Barossa Valley, ready to showcase their multilingual choral artistry beyond the doors of Central Australia for the first time since the pandemic began.
The choir’s performance was held at the Tanunda Soldiers Memorial Hall at the Barossa Regional Gallery on 19 November 2021 to a sold-out audience.
The Ntaria Choir is one of six Pitjantjatjara community choirs that have come together to form the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir. The choir has made headlines before, notably with the 2018 Song Keepers documentary. The choir has gone from singing in Lutheran churches at Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Utju (Areyonga) and Kaltukatjara (Docker River) in the Northern Territory to concert halls and churches in Europe and a tour to the US (pre-pandemic) and has won multiple awards.
The Ntaria Choir’s concert was part of the Barossa Regional Gallery’s exhibition, ‘Hermannsburg: The Barossa Connection’, highlighting the relationship between the Barossa and Hermannsburg/Ntaria communities.
‘Since the Hermannsburg choir first started touring in 1956 (originally as a men’s choir and later in 1967 as a mixed choir), they have made numerous trips to the Barossa Valley, which is almost like a second home for many of them’, says Pastor Rob Borgas, former Finke River Mission support worker.
Ntaria, where the eight-member choir comes from, was named Hermannsburg by early German Lutheran missionaries Kempe and Schwarz in 1877 after they travelled there from Bethany in South Australia. They taught the people their hymns, which were translated from German to Western Arrarnta.
Just as early German missionaries travelled north from Bethany to Ntaria, so the Ntaria Choir set off, this time, southward-bound to the Barossa Valley to share their gifts of music and language.