About Michael Manolis Mavromatis
Michael was born in Broome in 1955 to an Australian Greek father and a Filipino Yawuru mother. The Yawuru Jugan people are the traditional custodians of the lands and waters in and around Rubibi (the town of Broome).
Michael is a successful and talented musical director and performer who is currently serving as musical director and indigenous advisor for Opera Australia's 2020 national tour of the landmark musical Bran Nue Dae. The musical, which premiered in 1990 and remains one of the most commercially successful pieces of original Australian musical theatre, was written by the late Jimmy Chi in collaboration with Kuckles, the band that Michael and four fellow students from Broome formed while studying at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) in Adelaide. Michael also served as musical director for the 1990 Bran Nue Dae tour, and was music supervisor for the film adaptation in 2009, in which he performed. (See articles below from The Australian, our national newspaper, reporting on the Opera Australia tour.)
Mick with his very great friend and musical collaborator on Bran Nue Dae, and amazing visionary, Jimmy Chi, in Broome in 2017, a week before Jimmy died.
Kuckles won international recognition and a trip to Germany to perform at the Third Annual International Cologne Song Festival in 1982 with their original song, ‘Miliya Rumarra’. Their performance, which was produced and filmed by ABC-TV, marked the first by an indigenous Australian band in Europe. Michael has also played for a band called Bingurr, which is ‘moonlight' in the Bardi language.
Recently Michael wrote some music for The Shorebirds Quest, a local Broome production co-created by Theatre Kimberley, the Parks and Wildlife Yawuru Rangers and Country Managers, and the Broome community.
Michael is currently engaged at Nyamba Buru Yawuru as a linguist reviving the Yawuru language, which was nearly extinct. He learnt the Yawuru language in his early 20s from mother-tongue speakers, both men and women, who were the kindest people he knows.
Michael has “always known that aboriginal people were good, honest and relatively innocent” and believes Jeremy Griffith's biological explanation of the human condition provides the scientific principles behind this truth. Michael deeply appreciates Jeremy's “life, his hard work and courage to stick his head out to tell the world about this information”.
Jeremy and Annie met Michael Manolis Mavromatis, the musical director for Opera Australia’s 2020 production of Bran Nue Dae, and WTM Broome Centre founder, for the first time in person on the red carpet at the musical’s national premiere in Sydney on 17 January 2020. Michael presented Jeremy with the official tour T-shirt, which Jeremy amended so it reads, ‘BRAN NUE DAE’ ‘FOR HUMANKIND www.HumanCondition.com’. You can see the new T-shirt being modelled here by Sydney WTM Centre member Brony FitzGerald.
Brony also wore the T-shirt when some WTM Sydney members attended the performance with Michael the following evening, and met his sons, Manny and Conor, pictured below with Michael. Manny (centre) plays lead guitar in the onstage band.
We were all blown away by the magic of the musical, especially the fabulously inspired lyrics of the songs, but it was all just so uplifting. What an incredibly creative genius Mick and the rest of the original Kuckles band are! The song ‘Bran Nue Dae’ for the human race is up there with John Lennon’s Imagine and Schiller’s Ode to Joy in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which is the official anthem of the European Union (which you can listen to an extract from at https://youtu.be/7y_j4eGZHUc).
The 30th-anniversary production of the hit Australian musical, Bran Nue Day, in which Mick both performed and served as Musical Director, received a beautiful review in The Australian following its Sydney premiere. Deborah Jones wrote that “Bran Nue Dae’s heart and soul are found in the seductive Broome sound of Jimmy Chi and the band Kuckles [of which Mick is a member]. It’s a fusion of country, rock, blues and the rich harmonies of gospel that makes you feel nothing could be wrong with a world in which this music exists. The hits just keep on coming, backed by music director Michael Mavromatis and the terrific onstage band.” So well done again Mick on this fabulous achievement!