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Review - Songs of Hope and Healing: power, beauty, and grace of music

Right: Isaiah

Songs of Hope and Healing

Presented by QPAC and Friends of HEAL

Concert Hall

Queensland Performing Arts Centre

South Bank


There’s something to be said of the power, beauty and grace of music. Much like the human spirit, it weaves together to create magical moments in everyday life. So when the QPAC concert hall was packed to the rafters with supporters of the Friends of HEAL organisation, and those of the wider community, for a benefit concert, it became apparent that magic was about to happen.

Friends of HEAL is an organisation that helps provide a safe and creative space for students of a refugee background. With Sharon Orapaleng as host for the night and some four hundred musicians performing, we were first guided into the night by a stirring and beautiful Welcome to Country by Songwoman Maroochy.

The rest of the night flowed seamlessly onwards. The initial performance was performed by a hybrid choir made up of the QPAC community Choir and the Children’s Health Queensland Community Choir. Such an impressive number of people would surely have been difficult to lead but Music Director Timothy Sherlock made it seem a breeze.

When the first two energetic numbers were up, an unassuming young man with a powerful gift moved onto the stage. Hoang Pham, an accomplished pianist and no stranger to the plight of refugees, performed effortlessly and with beauty, taking the audience onto a loftier plain with his gentle music.

Voices of Birralee next provided a powerful and image-rich performance which was then lightened by an amusing number by Tichawona Mashawa or “Tich” for short. The Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Brass Ensemble came on shortly before the end of the first act to perform two numbers of high energy and technical skill, which warmed the audience up for one of the special guests of the evening, Isaiah, X Factor winner and last year’s Australian Eurovision representative. He gave the audience little wonder as to why he had been chosen to represent his country in such a widely televised event.

With smooth and rich vocals he closed the first act with the song that had taken him to the top ten last year.

Percussimo, a Queensland-based percussion band followed the interval with a high-octane session leaving the audience reeling. But much like the rest of the night, there was little time to digest what had just transpired as the next set smoothly wound their way on stage, the same choir that had given the opening numbers came back for one more piece.

The direction of the night took a more rock n roll turn with local boys Shag Rock making their mark on stage. Three more songs were then churned out by Boxties, with a distinctly Irish flavour that had the audience mentally jigging in their seats.

Finally after a powerhouse speech by Friends of HEAL board member, Adele Rice, the night began to wind down but by no means become less engaging.

Tenzin Choegyal demonstrated a powerful piece in his performance featuring his native Tibetan music.

Isaiah made a comeback for the final two numbers and brought the evening to a climactic close. What audience members took away from the night were heads and hearts full of memories, compassion and good music. What more could anyone want?

To see what Friends of HEAL are all about or to donate to their cause, visit

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