Hand on My Chest Composed July 2018 – September 2019 For spoken voice/s, 4 mins
In this anthem, the Chembo family calls us to consider the histories that our many cultural understandings are built upon, and issues of race, class and gender – what are the costs of belonging? What is it that we feel we belong to? And in acknowledging individual and collective pasts, how might we build a better world? This performance eschews melody and song, letting the lyric/text and voice ring out powerfully on its own.
Take some time to try and speak the Chembos’ anthem aloud.
The Faulalo/Bull family Samoan/Pākehā/New Zealanders
Life is Good Composed February – July 2019 For 6-part unaccompanied voice, 3 mins 50 sec
The Faulalo/Bull family anthem sings of the excitement and vitality found in modern family life. Throughout the piece we hear a repeated rhythmic pulse of culture and praise “Malie le olaga, le olaga malie!” (Samoan for “life is good, how good life is!”). Alongside this pulse, a lively family chorus sings of routines, values, hopes and the cultural roots of the family tree. This involves a negotiation of many musical ideas. Unison, harmony and polyphony embody the busyness of young family life, with each family member contributing their own lyrics and ideas to the mix.
While this anthem is specific and important to the Faulalo/Bull family, they sing of themes familiar to many of us. Ideas of gratitude and participation, the sense of belonging that arises from being active community members, the spirit of hard work and practice, and sense of home that is formed through the feeling connected to each other and to family ancestry.
New Zealand, Our Home Composed July 2018 – September 2019 For voice and piano/organ or other instrumentation, 1 min 30 sec
‘God Defend New Zealand’ began as a Christian hymn, becoming New Zealand’s second national anthem in 1977. The Samson-Godinez family favour the idea of an anthem as a hymn – an uplifting song of thanksgiving and praise that sings of values and beliefs. The traditional style of this new composition echoes a community-oriented time; an inherently social music that comes to life when sung by a group or a family.
Their new song 'New Zealand, Our Home' is about some of the qualities of Aotearoa New Zealand that form a unique sense of identity and home. Their anthem begins by noting characteristics often identified with New Zealanders: loyalty, friendliness, familiarity, and an easy-going nature. The final two verses pair the beauty of the land with the wild and brutal forces of nature that can unexpectedly shift the earth beneath our feet, stirring a nation into action.
Ana utu Tiibin (the Tiibin family) Kiribati/New Zealanders
Tangin Bwanaan Tebetebeke (Voices from the Pacific Ocean) Composed July 2018 – September 2019 For 5-part voice and guitar, 5 mins 40 sec
The Tiibins’ anthem considers the reality and possibility of having multiple homes and homelands. Their sense of belonging spans and connects two countries within the vast Pacific Ocean – Aotearoa New Zealand and Kiribati (pronounced “Kiribas”). The bond the Tiibins sing of is strong but fragile. Kiribati is one of earth’s most vulnerable countries with regard to the climate crisis. Rising seas imminently threaten to engulf the low-lying island nation, where the average elevation of the expansive archipelago is 1.8m above sea level. Already, waves wash right over low-lying parts of the land at high tide. Even if bold action was taken today, the fate of Kiribati is dire – within our lifetime most of the nation will be uninhabitable, swallowed by the rising sea.
Facing the realities of this climate emergency head on through song, the Tiibin family ask a profound question: how can a nation of people live on without physical land to rest their feet? How can culture, language and traditions survive and prosper when spread across many countries?
The Vissers Webb family Dutch/Pākehā/New Zealanders
Dorian Alleluias Composed April – September 2019 For variations of voices including instrumental-voice, 3 mins 10 sec (variable)
At the heart of this song is the question of how we each live out the values we uphold. Are our actions and relationships with others, and our world, honest to our beliefs? For the Vissers Webb family (the artist’s own family), these ideas can be found in small actions of family love as much as is in larger actions or socio-political movements. This anthem is improvised around the musical mode/scale called Dorian. Each rendition differs from the last, though the lyrics and mood of the piece remain consistent (just one rendition of the multiple recordings made is shown in this exhibition). The family chose this composition format for its links to jazz improvisation as well early Western vocal ornamentation. But most importantly, they chose this form of music making because it demands listening carefully to what others are doing and saying. Careful listening like this requires good teamwork and a heartfelt interest in ensuring each voice is heard, which can mean putting the needs of others before your own. Their anthem is a song of thanksgiving and appreciation for those people who hold us to account, who challenge and question, who encourage, and who love unconditionally.