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Time Travellers at the National Gallery of Victoria

On October 23, the NGV’s Great Hall hosted ‘Time Travellers, a journey through time and mythology’, the final performance from The Song Room’s long-running Harmony In Strings program at Sacred Heart Primary School Fitzroy. This enormously successful three year program, funded by The William Buckland Foundation, draws to a close at the end of 2013, and was concluded with Song Room Teaching Artists and students working together to create an immersive, interactive story telling experience featuring performances by the Sacred Heart students and plenty of audience participation.

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The storytelling performance was written by Song Room Teaching Artist Rachael Dyson-McGregor and centred around an interactive retelling of the stories behind four artworks in the NGV collection, which the children viewed on a tour of the gallery space; Giambattista Tiepolo’s The Banquet of Cleopatra, Salvator Rosa’s Romantic Landscape with Mercury and Argus, Avalokiteshvara, a Tibeto-Chinese sculpture and Guardian Spirit, a Chinese burial sculpture.

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Rachael took the myths and legends behind these artworks and turned them into a script which retold them with humour and relevance, to expertly engage today’s students.

Rachael won them over straight away, inviting them to contribute menu ideas for Cleopatra’s banquet, to create a creature from the body parts of other animals and to join with the orchestra to make a noise loud enough to scare away evil spirits (and possibly many visitors at the Gallery!)

The storytelling was accompanied by a sixty piece strings ensemble from the Song Room’s ‘Harmony in Strings’ program at Sacred Heart School in Fitzroy.

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The children had a great time over the course of the performance, including a moment which saw them name Julia Gillard and Michael Jackson as famous and powerful modern-day contemporaries of Antony and Cleopatra!

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