Description of Tour to Timor 2018

Australian Union and Solidarity Choir Tour, Timor Leste 2018

Choir rehearsal Feb 2018
Choir at rehearsal, Feb 2018


Singers from across Australia, collectively known as the Australian Union and Solidarity Choir are travelling to Timor Leste in August and September 2018 to participate in the Popular Consultation Day commemoration in Dili.  We aim to fortify friendships with Timorese towns and villages and share the joy of song.

On the ground in Dili, we will be performing with local choirs, artists and dance troupes to forge cultural bonds and friendships.  We will be sharing songs which inspire community links and salute the Tetum songs of the Timorese people.  We’ll connect with Dili and Timorese choirs, learning new songs to bring back, participate in workshops and deepen our artistic friendship with one of our closest neighbours.

Over the last 2 decades, a number of choristers in the current group have combined to participate in the Festival Internacional de Coros tour to Cuba (twice), pan-New Zealand union concerts and Europe.

Many choristers have already experienced wonderfully moving Timorese cultural events. They have learnt about the struggle of Timor through the inclusion of Timor Leste independence songs into their repertoires.  Groups from all over Australia such as the Canberra Union Voices, Illawarra Union Singers, Newcastle People’s Chorus, Melbourne’s Victorian Trade Union Choir, Brisbane Combined Unions Choir, Grass Roots of Tasmania and Western Australian Working Voices have all participated with active support for Timor Leste’s independence.

Solidarity Choir has had long-term inspirational involvement with the Timorese in Sydney. They invited Solidarity Choir to sing at Sydney Town Hall Square with Jose Ramos Horta on the occasion of his early public speech in the 1990s.

In 2005 Midnight Oil with Peter Garrett assembled a combined Timorese community choir and singers from Solidarity Choir to record a melancholy song: Ko Le Le Mai.

The choir supported book launches and rallies in song during the decade leading up to the Referendum and continues to sing for aid groups today, in events such as the annual Palms charity at Catholic University in Strathfield.

Further support has been given through song at vigils, marches and outside the UN office whilst our government weighed up its decision to send assistance to Timor post-election. Solidarity members shared the many high spots of singing in solidarity and the sorrow of ongoing tragedy for Timorese friends.

The choir is presently communicating with groups established by Australian communities to develop sister city relationships which give aid and professional exchange with Timor towns and people, in consultation with Abel Guterres, H.E. the Ambassador of Timor-Leste in Australia and his staff.  These groups include Friends of Dili, Friends of Maliana, Friends of Remeixo and Friends of Hato Builico

Projects of the Australian Union and Solidarity Choir:

⦁    a songbook to distribute to Timorese students and friends, with lyrics from songs of social justice and reconciliation in English, Tetum, Darug and Pacific languages. Similar songbooks have previously proved a hit on choir tours to non-English speaking countries.

⦁    engaging expert Tetum translators in Australia and Dili to ensure the poetry of the song lyrics are captured in this songbook.  It is hoped that these sensitive translations will enhance our cultural connections and strengthen relations with our Timorese neighbours.

Our visit has the twin aims of boosting tourism into Timor whilst building bridges into Australia for Timorese culture and we are hopeful that our friends from progressive politics and other social justice advocates may consider assisting the project with material practicalities or with referrals for contact persons.

Please contact Fran McIlroy 0466 287 230 or Mark Westcott 0400285974 or visit

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