A cold, wet, miserable night in Sydney did nothing to dampen the spirits of the people fortunate enough to be at the Art of Music Live. The intimate concert held in the Studio at the Sydney Opera House was a charity event for Nordoff-Robbins. The show proved to be just like the organisation, a confirmation of the unbelievable power of music.

Nordoff-Robbins is a non-profit organisation that provides internationally-recognised music therapy to children and adults with physical and intellectual disabilities, behavioural disorders, learning difficulties, dementia, autism, illness and trauma. It harnesses the innate ability we all possess to respond to music. It’s a powerful gift that can allow people to heal, grow and develop. But it can also be underused or unavailable for some people as there is no medical rebate offered.

The night was full of star-studded guests. In the audience alone there was Hugo Weaving, Jonathan “Jono” Coleman, Angela Catterns and event organiser and musician, Jenny Morris. The performers were the cream of the Australian and New Zealand music scenes, some elder statesmen and others who were younger and from the next wave. They would each perform two songs and one of these had been the inspiration for an artwork by the likes of: Michael Leunig, Wendy Sharpe, Reg Mombassa, James Powditch, Alan Jones, Nicholas Harding, Peter Kingston and Ken Johnson, which had also been sold to raise money.

Our host for the evening was Anthony Ackroyd. He was engaging, positive and funny. He kept the mood light and upbeat, even when the crowd seemed less than enthused about the prospect of Kevin Rudd making an appearance. Thankfully, it was just one of Ackroyd’s infamous impersonations and this was so close to Ruddy (his accent, mannerisms and facial likeness) that it was frankly scary.

The music commenced with the Sydney Children’s Choir doing a sterling version of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “The Ship Song”. The only other act not to fit the traditional pop/rock aesthetic of the night was a young, autistic man named Capstone. He would sing with his music therapist Rob Devlin accompanying him on acoustic guitar. They would perform beautiful renditions of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, showing how vital and successful the treatment is. Capstone’s attention span and vocabulary have improved since he commenced music therapy.

Some of the performances were a little more subtle and sombre than others. Tim Finn offered one such show by playing his solo track “People Like Us” and the Split Enz classic, “Dirty Creature”. Both of these were played by Finn on the piano and this often meant that the latter had more in common with another Enz classic, “I Hope I Never” than the quirky original. Another hit that was penned by a Finn (Tim’s brother Neil) would be offered by Katie Noonan when she covered Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, which managed to simultaneously glimmer and shake.

There was an auction and a raffle that was also drawn on the night. The auction had included a customised Les Paul guitar painted by Leunig, a signed Epiphone acoustic guitar, a dinner and show package to ARIA and a private performance by Iva Davies. The night was a successful one because along with a number of other fundraising activities and events held prior to the concert; the total money raised would be over $1 million.

After an interval it was time for some more classic, Aussie rock with Suze Demarchi and Dave Leslie covering Hunters & Collectors’ “Throw Your Arms Around Me” and Josh Pyke tackling The Church’s “Under The Milky Way”. Ian Moss did such soulful renditions of Cold Chisel’s “Choirgirl” and Bernard Fanning’s “Watch Over Me” with little more than an acoustic guitar (and he also proved what an excellent and instinctive musician he is). Dragon would close the night and their “April Sun In Cuba” was spine-tingling and it even got a few brave souls up dancing.

The Art Of Music Live was a wonderful concert for an equally worthy cause. It had offered the perfect bridge between artists (both locals and our neighbours from across the Tasman) plus young and old grooving alongside teachers and students. In sum, it was about all kinds of things that are good and sweet in the world and our spirits soared to the beat of the same drum for the evening. Nice.

The Art Of Music set list:

1. Sydney Children’s Choir – The Ship Song (originally performed by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)
2. Tim Finn – People Like Us
3. Tim Finn – Dirty Creature (originally performed by Split Enz)
4. Katie Noonan – Don’t Dream It’s Over (originally performed by Crowded House)
5. Katie Noonan – Flame Trees (originally performed by Cold Chisel)
6. Dave Mason – Quasimodo’s Dream (originally performed by The Reels)
7. Dave Mason, Chris O’Doherty/Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty – Prefab Heart (originally performed by The Reels)
8. Chris O’Doherty/Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty – Berserk Warriors (originally performed by Mental As Anything)
9. Chris O’Doherty/Reg Mombassa and Peter O’Doherty – Mr Alcohol & Mrs Marijuana (originally performed by Dog Trumpet)


10. Capstone & Rob Devlin – Imagine (originally performed by John Lennon)
11. Capstone & Rob Devlin – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (originally performed by Bob Marley)
12. Suze DeMarchi & Dave Leslie – Throw Your Arms Around Me (originally performed by Hunters & Collectors)
13. Suze DeMarchi & Dave Leslie – Stitch (originally performed by Baby Animals)
14. Josh Pyke – Under The Milky Way (originally performed by The Church)
15. Josh Pyke – Leeward Side
16. Ian Moss – Watch Over Me (originally performed by Bernard Fanning)
17. Ian Moss – Choirgirl (originally performed by Cold Chisel)
18. Iva Davies – Great Southern Land (originally performed by Icehouse)
19. Iva Davies – We Can Get Together (originally performed by Icehouse)
20. Dragon – Dreams Of Ordinary Men
21. Dragon – April Sun In Cuba

For more information about Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia please visit:

Originally published on 30 June 2013 at the following website:

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