Cobar High wins national music award

Cobar High School has won a prestigious national music award for its work Sounds and Stories. Madeline Austin reports.

A woman with an award. A woman with an award.
Image: Cobar High School music teacher with the APRA AMCOS Art Music Award for Excellence in Education.

Cobar High School has been recognised for its musical talents on a national stage.

The school’s 18-minute sound installation ‘Sounds and Stories’ took won the Excellence in Art Education gong at the APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards on Tuesday night.

Cobar High music teacher Laura Andrews said the win was an incredible achievement for the school and students.

“It was a thrill to even be nominated for an award at a national level,” she said.

“It’s exciting for the kids to know the project they have been a part of has been recognised by other people.”

The award-winning sound installation was produced by Ms Andrew and Cobar High students in collaboration with Sydney composer Elizabeth Jigalin.

During a week-long workshop in August 2022, students recorded stories from five local community members - Mary Madden, Issie Pretty, Shane Josephson, Leonie McCosker and Barry Knight - documenting their memories of an iconic Cobar landmark known as The Silver Tank.

People cutting a cake. People cutting a cake.
Image: Students and members of the community cut a replica cake of The Silver Tank, which served as the first permanent water source for the town.

The old water tank on the outskirts of Cobar served as the first permanent water source for the town and holds a storied history for members of the local community.

Ms Andrew said The Silver Tank became an informal meeting place for residents of the town.

“Community members shared memories of riding their bikes past the tank, of spending their days rabbit catching, fossicking for minerals or even foraging for plants,” she said.

Inspired by the community members and their own musical sketches, students composed and performed original works that aimed to accompany the mood of each story.

Students also used field recordings to bring the sounds of Cobar to life. The recordings were used to produce original sound effects to accompany the stories.

The students said the tank brought the people of Cobar together and highlighted the importance of community connection.

It is now the home of Georges Lentz’s permanent artwork ‘Cobar Sound Chapel’.

Ms Andrew said she hoped the win would inspire students at Cobar High to be empowered by their musical abilities and personal creativity.

“It’s very validating to be recognised for creating work that is of such a high standard,” she said.

Students with musical instruments. Students with musical instruments.
Image: Students worked with members of the community to produce the award-winning Sounds and Stories collaboration.
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