Looking back on the 2020 Sonus2 Tour

Artistic Director Tos Mahoney contemplates the recently completed Sonus2 Tour featuring Kimberley singer-songwriters Olive Knight and Stephen Pigram with Esfandiar Shahmir, Tristen Parr, and Tos himself, all collaborating with artists and community as they travelled through the Kimberley.

So much has just happened in a little over two weeks. With only 7 weeks to plan and enact a music tour across the Kimberley, there was much still being finalised as the Tour started. Maybe it was this intensity, maybe it was the spontaneity and freshness, maybe it was the outpouring of joy from community of just being able to gather let alone experience live performances, maybe being on country with such old hearts and minds – probably it was all of that and more but Sonus2 has certainly elicited powerful responses across every day of its short existence.

As we traversed this collection of nations now known as the Kimberley with Kankawa Nagarra (Olive Knight) and Stephen Pigram, as well as so many local people along the way, as our guides, we were again reminded of the unknowable depth of culture and the eons of connection to the land.

The Sonus2 “program”, itself an evolving flow of interconnections from some very different cultural perspectives, lifted beyond logic even on the first outing at Waringarri Aboriginal Arts Centre. Of course, it was not just the performers or the music – it was the place, the people, the history, and no doubt hope.

So many stories to tell between that moment and the last – inconceivably performing Stephen Pigram’s iconic Raindancing under a shower of fireworks before a crowd of 5000 for the Shinju Matsuri Festival Finale at Cable Beach in Broome.

Still, the thread of connection was there till the end with Stephen, Kankawa, and Patrick Davies (Fitzroy Crossing) collaborating with Tristen Parr, Esi Shamir, and myself.

When everyone had assumed a Tour like this would simply not be possible this year – it was and it’s happened. The flow-on will no doubt last for many months, if not years (already is), and we thank infinitely all of the communities, organisations, and people along the way who made it happen.

Hugest thanks to Lotterywest and Healthway for not only funding the project but being flexible around timelines in these strange times. Likewise thanks to the Rowley Foundation and to all of our 2020 donors, as well as the Australia Council and the WA Department of Local Government, Sport, and Cultural Industries, culture and the arts, for their continuing support.

Images by Abby Murray, Kelli Mcintosh and Sarah Duguid.