Hand to Earth

Hand to Earth expresses something of the here and now in music, and represents contemporary Australia at its best: sophisticated, inclusive, diverse, and forward looking.
Hand to Earth was developed during an Australia Art Orchestra residency in the remote highlands of Tasmania.

Yolgnu songman, Daniel Wilfred, and Korean vocalist, Sunny Kim, formed an effortless rapport that spans continents and cultures and yet expresses a deeply human commonality. Their vocal approaches are melded into the electronic atmospheres created by trumpeter and composer, Peter Knight, who draws on the minimalism of Brian Eno and Jon Hassell to create a bed for these beautifully contrasting voices.

“The Wilfred Brothers are unusual in bringing traditional Songline forms into contemporary classical and improv settings. The magnetic stage presence of the two Yolngu songmen makes for a revelatory performance.”

- The Wire, Feb 2023 (Huddersfeld Contemporary Music Festival performance)
Daniel sings in traditional language, and is the keeper of ancient Yolgnu manikay (songs). His is the oldest continuously practised music tradition in the world. Sunny sings in English and Korean, and intones wordless gestures that invoke raw elemental forces. Together they sing of the stars, of fire, and of the cooling rain, against the sounds of Peter Knight’s trumpet and electronic crackles and Aviva Endean’s improvisations on her collection of clarinets and other resounding objects.

Hand to Earth is a call to open ears: eluding genre, traversing continents and fusing ancient and contemporary. At its heart are Yolŋu manikay (song cycles), a 40,000+ year-old oral tradition from South East Arnhem Land, northern Australia. These songs exist across vast time and space, to continuously make the continuous – known as raki, the spirit that pulls all together, all performers all listeners.

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