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The Beat Festival

It's where countless Territorians have got their musical start – including Jessica Mauboy, whose appearances at The Beat Festival included a featured solo performance.

The annual Beat Festival began in 1979 as a combined schools concert in the Darwin amphitheatre. 37 Beats later, the spectacular runs over three nights and features more than 1000 students, from grade one to year 12, at the Darwin Entertainment Centre.

This year’s theme is ‘Magic!’ – which belies the incredible effort put in by hundreds of students, their teachers and parents to produce the consummate all-singing, all-dancing musical event.

“The preparation runs for an entire year,” says NT Music School Principal Bill Grose.

“We’ve already started working on next year’s show. We have to decide on the songs for the following year quite early, then we have to arrange the songs for the 32-piece band.”

Each night a combined choir of 300 students gets on stage to sing, this year including students from Katherine, Maningrida, Ramingining, Bathurst Island and Nemarluk schools, who are joining their Darwin and Palmerston counterparts.

“Katherine School of the Air have a choir and are regulars and they don’t even catch up with each other until the festival,” says Grose. Instead, the students practice over the airwaves.

This year’s featured performers include NT Song of the Year People’s Choice winner, Phoebe Wear and the popular Alice Springs Centralian Senior College rock band, Juice.

The performers who’ve come furthest afield however, are the Tongling Middle School No 4, from Anhui Province in China.

“We’ve got a sister school relationship with Tongling Middle School,” explains Grose.

“They send students to perform in The Beat every second year and we send bands to visit China every other year. This year they’re sending traditional musicians so that’s pretty exciting.” 

See the event listing.

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