HEL Music Productions presents

Music from/about/for Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste musician Ego Lemos has interpreted and modernised some of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching traditional melodies from his nation's history, and produced a wealth of original songs in its lingua-franca, Tetum. He sings about such topics as the centrality of water to life, the unceasing toil of Timor's peasant farmers, and the need for people to remain positive and to strive for unity. His poignant debut album O Hele Le demonstrates great intimacy and connection with his land.

Ros Dunlop has been a strong advocate of new music for the clarinet and bass clarinet all her professional life. She has premiered many new compositions by composers and performed in many countries of the world including Timor-Leste. Her first trip there was in 2002, performing concerts with Martin Wesley Smith. Since then, she has returned many times, recording Timor's traditional music. The US State Department has funded the production of a book - Klamar husi Avo ~ the traditional music of Timor-Leste, with accompanying CD and DVD in Tetum and English - that will be released in Timor later this year, the target audience being local youth.

The Thirsty Night Singers hail from Berry, Cambewarra, Culburra and Kangaroo Valley. They consist of Nell Britton & Nadia Intihar (sopranos), Janette Carter & Patsy Radic (altos), Martin Wesley-Smith (tenor), and Peter Morgan & Peter Stanton (basses).

an image from X for clarinet & CD-ROM: torture photo [click photo to enlarge]

from Dunlop and Wesley-Smith's concert tour of East Timor, March 2002 (click to enlarge):

rob with kids audience at ermera timorese kids
Rob Wesley-Smith
with kids in Gleno [72K]
audience in Ermera [58K]

photography (c) 2002 Martin Wesley-Smith

Timorese young people
near Hato Bullico [128K]

"I had complete strangers coming up, with tear-stained faces (saying) how powerful it was ..."

about Hato' Knananuk No Toka, the body for which this concert is raising funds:

In Timor-Leste, where so much is needed, the arts are not a priority. For those of us who know how important the arts can be in rebuilding communities and nations, as an antidote for trauma, we feel a void needs to be filled. Timorese musicians and artists need the same opportunities and access to supplies and learning that we enjoy in this country. Ego and Ros are committed to helping the musicians of Timor. To this end they have formed a musicians' collective called "Hato' Knananuk No Toka" (to express together - sing and play). This will give opportunities to musicians (both popular and traditional) in Timor-Leste to share information, accessories, workshops, jam sessions, and so on, providing a listening library and a performance space. We hope also to have a good supply of accessories for instruments, and a place where instruments can be donated and stored. A building has been promised but repairs are necessary. Visual artists in Timor do not have access to good quality materials and some funds will be put towards this purpose.

notes on the audio-visual pieces:
ET flag
Tekee Tokee Tomak

Using photographs by various photographers, including some we took ourselves in East Timor in 2002, this piece was premiered in Manchester on our 2003 tour of the UK and Hong Kong. David Morris described it, in Clarinet & Saxophone, Spring 2003, as a "portrayal of post-independence East Timor, full of smiling people and beautiful landscapes". Ros recently performed it in the presence of Dr. Mari Alkatiri, Chief Minister of East Timor.

Martin Wesley-Smith

images by various photographers

"Tekee Tokee Tomak" means, in a rough translation from the Tetum, "Let's get together and enjoy ourselves". This is what the East Timorese people are now trying to do in order to re-build their shattered lives and country.

the future

photo by Ros Dunlop
click to see full-size (244K)


Commissioned by American clarinetist F. Gerard Errante, this piece has been performed, by him and by Ros, many times in the USA. It was composed in 1999 as the Indonesian military-promoted militia carnage was raging across East Timor. At the time, resistance leader Xanana Gusmão (the "X" of the title) was in Cipinang Prison, Jakarta.

see reviews of a performance of "X" in London, Feb 6 2003

see, also, separate web page

Martin Wesley-Smith

images by various photographers

an audio-only version of this piece can be heard on Ros Dunlop's CD X:

Iraq flag
Weapons of Mass Distortion

about the Coalition of the Killing's 2003 invasion of Iraq

These days we are seeing more and more of what in 1946 George Orwell exposed (in "Politics and Language") as the deceits and devices of "doublespeak". For example: "collateral damage" really means the maiming and killing of innocent civilians; "removal with extreme prejudice" means assassination; "incontinent ordnance" are bombs which hit schools and hospitals by mistake; "active defense" is invasion; and an "energetic disassembly" is a nuclear explosion. During the Vietnam War, "limited duration protective reaction air strikes" meant bombing Vietnamese villages. In Australia, asylum-seekers, who have committed no offence, are dismissed as "illegals". As Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside points out: "(Language) can hide shocking truth, it can deceive a nation, it can hand electoral victory to the morally bankrupt."

Rumsfeld's word "deconfliction" meant invading Iraq - at the cost of thousands of lives, massive damage, and billions of dollars - to stop it using (apparently nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction and giving them to terrorists with whom it apparently had no links. This piece looks at the abuse of language, particularly the use of doublespeak in undermining the democracy in whose name we invaded Iraq.

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."

Martin Wesley-Smith

photography by George Gittoes and others
cartoons by Steve Bell, Alan Moir, Peter Nicholson and others
some lyrics by Peter Wesley-Smith
choir: Canberra Choral Society
tenor soloist: David Hamilton
concept, music, programming, script etc:
Martin Wesley-Smith

see lecture by George Wolfe

some light reading:

Pitt: The Dog Ate My WMDs
Cory: If We Knew Where It Was, Why Don't We Know Where It Is?
Penn: Kilroy's Still Here
Weiner: Germany In 1933: The Easy Slide Into Fascism
Shezad: US Turns to the Taliban
Cassel: Libby's Lies: A Moment of Truth

Wesley-Smith has composed another piece - called doublespeak, for six voices and bucket - about propaganda, doublespeak etc. Read the script, by Peter Wesley-Smith, here. It was premiered by Australia's top vocal ensemble The Song Company in Kangaroo Valley Hall and the Sydney Opera House in June 2005. See reviews here.

WP flag
Papua Merdeka

The 1969 UN-sanctioned "Act of Free Choice" that handed the Dutch colony West Papua to Indonesia was a sham, an act of no choice for the West Papuan people. Since then, Indonesia has treated the territory as it did East Timor, with rampant human rights abuse as well as exploitation, in collusion with America and others, of West Papua's rich natural resources.

This piece is about the West Papuan people and their thirst for freedom. Almost all the sources I've used in creating it were begged, borrowed or stolen from others. They include Agence France Presse, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's 2JJJ, Penny Beaumont, Sheila Draper, Don Bennetts, Gerry Errante, Steven Feld, Lynne Hamilton (of Prowling Tiger Press in Melbourne, who published "West Papua: Follow the Morning Star" by Ben Bohane, Jim Elmslie and Liz Thompson, an inspiring book of superb texts and photographs), David Kirkland (www.kirklandphotos.com), Jonny Lewis, Robert Lowry ("Shall We Gather at the River?"), Jonathon Mustard, SBS News, Edward Smith and Alice Wesley-Smith - my thanks to all these plus to all those whose names I don't know or contact addresses I can't find. Apologies to those whose names have been inadvertently omitted. Thanks, too, to David Bridie, Louise Byrne, Andrew Kilvert and Rob Wesley-Smith. Two other books provided valuable information: Jim Elmslie's "Irian Jaya Under the Gun" (Crawford House Publishing (Australia) Pty Ltd) and Peter King's "West Papua Since Suharto" (University of New South Wales Press). I used the beautiful West Papuan anthem Hai Tanah Ku Papua. Flags, used with permission, came from http://www.theodora.com/flags. Most of the bird of paradise paintings were by Rowan Ellis (1848-1922). Finally, thanks to Ros Dunlop for commissioning the piece. And, for funding assistance, to the Music Board of the Australia Council, the Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body.

ozco logo

for information about West Papua: Follow the Morning Star, email Lynne Hamilton at prowling@bigpond.net.au

for other relevant publications, click here

from Father Claude Mostowik, Director, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart [Australian Province], Peace and Justice Centre, to Senator Robert Hill, Minister for Defence, Parliament House, Canberra, ACT 2600, 31 October 2005:

"In the light of media reports, it is with deep concern that I write to you about the news that the Australian SAS and the Indonesian Special Forces, Kopassus, are resuming ties and cooperation ... The Centre, that represents some 250 Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Australia and Papua New Guinea, believes that the involvement of the Australian military in the training of Kopassus troops, who are always used in conflict areas, will result in great danger for the people of West Papua ... We urge you to reconsider involvement by the Australian military in cooperating with and training Indonesian military."

Martin Wesley-Smith

photography by many photographers far and wide, including some whom I haven't been able to contact

West Papua Niugini/Irian Jaya Homepage:

Papua Press Agency:

the assassination of Ondofolo Dortheys Hiyo Eluay, Hero of West Papua: www.westpapua.net/about/heroes/theys/


petition seeking justice for West Papua

from Joe Collins, Secretary, Australia West Papua Association, Sydney, October 2005 (see Islands Business):

"Since last year's Pacific Islands Forum meeting, human rights abuses have continued to occur in West Papua. One major example is the military operation undertaken by the Indonesian military in the Puncak Jaya district in West Papua's central highlands.

"During this military operation, a large number of villages were destroyed, including livestock and food gardens. More than 6000 people have fled to the bush in fear of their lives. The President of the West Papuan Baptist Church, Reverend Yoman, reported that twenty-three people have died of starvation, although he believes this figure could be higher as church and aid groups are prevented from moving freely in the area by the military and are therefore unable to make complete assessments. In May this year, two West Papuan men, Philep Karma and Yusak Pakage, received jail terms of 15 and 10 years respectively, for so-called "treason against the state". Their crime? Simply organising a peaceful demonstration where the West Papuan national flag, The Morning Star, was raised ..."

a review of 2003 concert in London by Dunlop & Wesley-Smith:


Australian Multi-Media Works
February 6, 2003
St Cyprian's Church, London NW1

reviewed by David Morris in Clarinet & Saxophone, London, Spring 2003

My diary tells me that I had a clarinet lesson on Monday 20th May last year. Strangely, it neglects to mention that on that same day, the people of East Timor gained their independence, dollowing 24 years of Indonesian occupation. This British Music Information Centre-supported concert in St Cyprian's Church was part of a tour by Ros Dunlop and Martin Wesley-Smith (the Tekee Tokee Tomak Tour) to raise awareness of the struggle of East Timor to recover from its recent history of seemingly often brutal oppression.

In another world, the fine golden screen at St Cyprian's provided a vivid backdrop for this multi-media programme. Before it stood a large screen of a different kind flanked by speakers on tall stands, and a modest projection and mixing desk set between the two front rows of the audience.

The evening opened with Gerard Brophy's Iza, a short but vigorous and warming duet for bass clarinets, performed by Natascha Briger and Ros Dunlop. Both players immediately established their proficiency, though throughout the evening it was the legato lines that fared best and sometimes a little of the rhythmic punch was lost to the big acoustic.

Down to business, however, and next was X by Martin Wesley-Smith. This was the first of several of his multi-media works, comprising slides, tape and clarinet. Lest there be any confusion, the slide show was not of the 'Could we have the next one, please Geoff' school, but a compelling sequence of images fading into one another, colours and textures constantly on the move, all under the control of the composer and his Macintosh. The tape merged broadcast sound bites with choral passages and electronic effects, big noise with jaunty instrumental numbers, all synchronised with the visual images. Over the top was Ros Dunlop's live clarinet. "X" refers to the resistance leader Xanana Gusmão, imprisoned in 1999 while the Indonesian military withdrew from East Timor. The images were brutal. So was the music, though the screaming clarinet might have benefited from some amplification to match the volume of the tape and heighten the anguish in the climactic passages. However, in quieter parts, Ros Dunlop's melancholy lines were serene.

Later came Wesley-Smith's short epic Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, in a similar format, but now observing the occupation of East Timor from the viewpoint of the eponymous hotel, still standing after all these years. No winds, just a cello and CD-ROM of sound bites and song, with a catchy refrain to rival anything by Don Henley. Despite the subject, the work had an easy flow and structure and Rachel Scott discharged the simultaneous vocal and amplified cello parts with passion and to great effect.

The item between these two was another worry given Amnesty International's past features on Central America. But the programmers were merciful and Stephen Ingham's Panama turned out to be a take on an old jazz standard, for clarinet, bass clarinet and a CD-ROM that provided a virtual jazz rhythm section to get the audience tapping along, if occasionally on the wrong beat.

The second half started in bright style with Tekee Tokee Tomak for clarinet and CD-ROM, Martin Wesley-Smith's portrayal of post-independence East Timor, full of smiling people and beautiful landscapes. For the next piece, the positive mood grabbed an attractive ideal and the two danced shoulder to shoulder in Dave Smith's snappily-titled Mitchell Principles and Laws on Central Albania, for two clarinets. The Mitchell in question appeared to be Ian, past Clarinet and Saxophone Society Chairman, who had premiered it, but his Principles were not obvious in this alternately angular and glissando-ridden romp. However, Natascha Briger and Ros Dunlop communicated the mood well here.

With Ros Dunlop back on bass clarinet and Martin Wesley-Smith on the CD-ROM, the evening was brought to a close with Merry-Go-Round, his treatment of contemporary Afghanistan. More scenes passed rapidly before us, including children and men having naive fun aboard a small home-made merry-go-round. This, we were told, was an allegory for the repeated invasions suffered by the people of Afghanistan, but it worked most powerfully as a striking reinforcement of common humanity.

In a multi-media show, attention is necessarily shared amongst the components. Music communicates, but to achieve a message as strong and specific as this, the various media components were tightly harnessed in support of the central theme. The clarinet as political blunt instrument. Placing the solo players beside a large bright screen, further from the audience and beyond the mixing console, visually reinforced the supporting nature of their role. However, with occasional balance problems against the tape at the climaxes and a big acoustic to fill, perhaps the clarinet writing didn't always get the attention it deserved. It would certainly have been more interesting to hear the clarinet lines more amplified, and perhaps for the instrumentalists to have been further forward.

Overall, the apolitical works set the human rights issues in perhaps greater relief, and ensured there was plenty of variation in the programme. The subject matter was often hard-hitting and it is unlikely anyone left the church unmoved, though not necessarily for musical reasons. "Tekee Tokee Tomak" apparently means something like "Let's all get together", and it was a refreshing experience to see our instrument used in support of such worldly issues.

another review of the same concert:


February 6, 2003
St Cyprian's Church, London NW1

reviewed by Carmel Budiardjo

It was a pleasant surprise to hear that Martin Wesley-Smith was in town and would be presenting a concert of his music much of which is dedicated to East Timor.

The name rings bells. The Wesley-Smith family has such a long association with East Timor. Rob is an old friend, an activist like myself who went the long haul for East Timor from obscurity in the 1970s to stunning success and international recognition more than two decades later. But I still had to find out what his composer brother was all about, and here at last was the opportunity.

The venue of the concert was a church in north London and the performers were two clarinetists and a cellist, with Martin busily pressing buttons on a video machine. An unusual combination, something quite new in artistic presentation. It was good too to see quite a crowd of East Timorese in the audience, for this novel experience.

The concert bore the name Tekee, Tokee, Tomak, a Tetum phrase meaning 'Let's all get together'. Yes, indeed!

Martin is a composer of considerable talent and versatility who has hit on the idea of audio-visual presentation for many of his compositions. And what could be a more suitable medium for his music than East Timor with so many visual records of its tragic experience.

Most of the music performed was programme music, telling a story that is helped by the visual presentation. But I have to say that when I first heard his composition, Welcome to the Hotel Turismo, some months earlier without the visual presentation, performed by the first class cellist, Rachel Scott, I was immediately taken by its shape, its changing moods and colour. A sombre and serious piece, like his other work, X, celebrating the outstanding role of the East Timorese leader, Xanana Gusmao. Tekee, Tokee, Tomak is a much happier piece, in which one feels the joy and high spirits of the East Timorese, at last savouring their independence.

Included in the programme was a composition by Dave Smith, called Mitchell's Principles Based on Albanian Laws, a piece full of dance-like melodies. I happened to be sitting next to an Albanian woman who showed her delight at the composition. with themes so familiar to her. The Klezmer-like character of this piece had a particular appeal to me and provided a good balance to the programme.

The clarinetists Ros Dunlop and Natascha Briger performed superbly well and the combination of sound and visuals worked extremely well in helping to give the compositions greater depth and to appeal to a very mixed audience.

The group are to be congratulated for bringing together this event which was both artistically rewarding and a powerful tribute to the courageous people of East Timor.

flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries; used with permission.

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