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Whistling Past the Graveyard

Let’s whistle past the graveyard!

In ‘Whistling Past the Graveyard’ Doctor Leah Cotterell and Mistress Narelle McCoy draw from their written memoirs and academic research to look at the best and worst of funerals, from the truly sad to the sublime and uplifting. The musical materials are as eclectic as the subject matter, ranging from classical and folk song to emblematic pop songs and of course, together we all sing ‘Amazing Grace’.

Mistress McCoy has a hundred vivid stories to share, from the colourful funeral traditions of her Irish-Australian Ipswich family to the outrageous cocktail party-wakes she attended in Sydney in the ‘80s. Add to that her PhD research on keening or lamenting of the dead by women in Ireland, exploring the influence of Paganism on Celtic Christianity.

Doctor Cotterell has a peculiar gift for making difficult stories meaningful and beautiful through song. She’ll be drawing from her musical memoir ‘The Pleasure of Sad Songs’ sharing moving insights on family, connection, mental illness and resilience. From experience, she takes a humanistic look at the dynamics of power in our systems of care when we reach the final days and hours of life.

In memory of the best funerals they ever attended, Leah and Narelle salute the everyday courage it takes to meet at the end in good humour, with good company.


Together we can stare down the final mystery with a song on our lips!

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