Voices from the Vacant Lot is a mixed-voice choir based in Sydney, Australia. We sing a wide ranging repertoire of songs and choral works with percussion and some new versions of ancient musical instruments.
photos by Andrew Worssam
The Lot is about a culturally diverse society and the importance of music as a force for the empowerment of all people.
Our acclaimed CD, Dance On Your Bones, has won many accolades, including:
- ARIA Award nomination, Best World Music Album
- International World Music Album (Canada) – 2nd place (behind Sweet Honey in the Rock)
We are proud to have performed before some of the great political and cultural figures of our day, including Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gough Whitlam and Jose Ramos Horta.
As if in a dream they learnt to listen and to speak to their ancestors, the spirits of life, of joy and of pain, and as they sang they began to dance on the bones of their past.
In a little room in a house 28 years ago, some hungry people with hats on came in from a chilly night and began to sing. They found some songs from far away countries that were being sung by the people next door.
Voices from the Vacant Lot are at the forefront of a rapidly expanding Australian cultural movement. Rooted in a sense of the importance of a culturally diverse society and the importance of music as a force for the empowerment of all people, this movement exists as a growing number of choral groups, drumming ensembles and street performers. An extraordinary total of 15 or more vocal, performance and teaching groups have been established by singers from the ranks of this ensemble alone. Voices from the Vacant Lot have now been performing for twenty five years!
Voices from the Vacant Lot have worked together to build a diverse and powerful repertoire sourced from research and interaction with a wide range of musical cultures. Members of Voices from the Vacant Lot have been studying choral music from South Africa, Bulgaria, Russia, Georgia; capoeira and samba from Brazil; drumming with African and Cuban musicians; and shared skills in composition, arrangement, performance, vocal technique, conducting and musicology with each other. They have arranged and performed songs in as many as 20 different languages, always referring our pronunciation and cultural content back to community members and native speakers from these cultures, both here and overseas.