The Kate Kelly Song Cycle

Premiere of The Kate Kelly Song Cycle, Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, Forbes, NSW, 4 September 2011. Photo by Steve Woodhall.

Premiere of The Kate Kelly Song Cycle, Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, Forbes, NSW, 4 September 2011. Photo by Steve Woodhall.

The full libretto for this chamber opera, and snippets from each of the arias are available here >>

The full score is available here >>

The film of the project is available here >> 

6 Oct. 2014 Sian Prior, soprano, broadcaster, and author of the confessional memoir Shy (Text, 2014), blogs about her visit to Forbes for her premiere performance of The Kate Kelly Song Cycle in 2011 >>

The Kate Kelly Song Cycle, a creative collaboration by composer Ross James Carey and writer Merrill Findlay, re-interprets the life of one of Australia’s most iconic women, the youngest sister of bushranger Ned Kelly.

The chamber opera emerged from Merrill’s Kate Kelly Project. It was first performed in Forbes in September 2011, as the headline act for inaugural Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, beside the very lagoon in which Kate Kelly’s body was found in 1898. [More on the genesis of the festival >>]

Melbourne soprano Sian Prior performs with the Kate Kelly esemble and choirs, Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, Forbes, NSW. September 2011. Photo by Steve Woodhall.

Melbourne soprano Sian Prior performs with the Kate Kelly esemble and choirs, Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, Forbes, NSW. September 2011. Photo by Steve Woodhall.

This first performance featured Melbourne soprano Sian Prior, with an ensemble of professional musicians consisting of Elizabeth Jones on accordion, Rachel Whealy (cello), Martin Lee (violin), and Justin Screen (clarinet), and the Forbes Shire Choir and the College For Seniors Choir, under the baton of musical director William Moxey, from Orange NSW.

The making of the Song Cycle and its premiere production are now the subject of a documentary film, Songs For Kate, by Tracy Sorensen, which is distributed globally by Ronin Films. More >>

Forbes Advocate, August 2014: Songs For Kate Highlights Merrill’s Work, by Sophie Harris >>

Accordionist Elizabeth Jones,  Justin Screen (clarinet), Martin Lee (violin), and Rachel Whealy (cello) after their premiere performance of The Kate Kelly Song Cycle in Forbes.

Accordionist Elizabeth Jones, Justin Screen (clarinet), Martin Lee (violin), and Rachel Whealy (cello) after their premiere performance of The Kate Kelly Song Cycle in Forbes. Photo by Steve Woodhall.

The song cycle is in five parts performed without a break.

I. Prologue: Bricky’s Sorry Song
II. Quong Lee’s Song (Harvest Moon in Spring)
III. Ghosts of Glenrowan
IV. Poor Irish and Wiradjuri
V. I Heard the Banshee Cry
[Read the libretto and listen to snippets of the arias here >>]

This work not only honours Kate Kelly herself, but also foregrounds the challenges women of all backgrounds have faced in inland rural Australia. It alos acknowledges the diverse cultures of the people who have lived along the Lachlan River for the last forty thousand years or more. The music and lyrics reference many of these peoples, including the Wiradjuri nation, the different groups of Europeans who settled in and around Forbes in the nineteenth century, and the town’s many Cantonese migrants. And, of course, Kate Kelly’s own Irish ancestors.

SONG CYCLE MEDIA

7 September 2011, ABC Central West: Forbes plays host to world premiere of Kate Kelly Song Cycle >>

30 August 2011, Bush Telegraph, ABC Radio National: Greg Muller talks with composer Ross Carey, soprano Sian Prior and librettist Merrill Findlay about the premiere of The KK Song Cycle at the River Arts Festival. Listen here  >>

13 June 2011, ABC Melbourne:  Sian Prior talks about the River Arts Festival and the Song Cycle with Jon Faine, 774 ABC Melbourne. Listen here  >>

Steve Woodhall’s photos of The KK Song Cycle premiere in 2011 >>

Youtube snippet of Songs For Kate, by Tracy Sorenson, about the making of the Kate Kelly Song Cycle >>

Songs For Kate on Facebook >>

More on Tracy Sorensen’s documentary >>

Kate Kelly in her black silk riding habit, probably taken in Melbourne in 1880.

More on The Kate Kelly Project (KKP)

The KK Song Cycle >>
The KK  Walk >>
Who was Kate Kelly? >>
On The Death Of Kate Kelly >>
Themes linking Kate Kelly’s time with our own >>
Kate Kelly On The Lachlan 1886-1898 >>
In Memory Of Kate Kelly 1863-1898 >>
Project partners and acknowledgements >>
Quong Lee’s Store >>

Project media
2008 >>
2009 >>
2010 >>
2011 >>

More on Merrill’s project work >>

Page history:  Content migrated to this new site 15 December 2010. Last revised 9 March 2015. Permalink: http://merrillfindlay.com/?page_id=275

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