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Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra, Arts Centre Melbourne and the Wheeler Centre present

No Friend but the Mountains: A Symphonic Song Cycle

World Premiere

Composer Luke Styles
Librettist Behrouz Boochani
Translator and Collaborator Omid Tofighian

21 March, 2021 | 5pm
Gates open: 3:30pm

$45 - $300 (+ $9.35 Service Fee per order)
This price range includes single seats, groups of up to 2, 4 and 6 guests
See full pricing breakdown below

No Friends but the Mountains

Inspired by Behrouz Boochani’s perilous journey to seek asylum.

“Thumbed on a phone. Smuggled out. Thousands of text messages. The near impossibility of its existence. On Nauru and Manus Island, they live in a zoo of cruelty.”

No Friend but the Mountains, Behrouz Boochani’s multi award-winning book which chronicles his perilous journey as an asylum seeker and his forced detention on Manus Island, was the inspiration behind this new Symphonic Song Cycle by prolific Australian composer, Luke Styles.

Boochani, a Kurdish-Iranian journalist, writer and film-maker, penned his book in secret in his native Farsi language on a mobile phone and sent it to Omid Tofighian, his translator and collaborator, over many years as a series of hundreds of text messages. He opened up the hidden world of detention, shone a light on the conditions endured by detainees on Manus and exposed a brutal system ostensibly designed to deter other asylum seekers while breaking those caught in it.

To open the event, Behrouz Boochani will appear in conversation via video reflecting on this new adaptation of his story.

Featuring soloist Bass Baritone, Adrian Tamburini, with the Zelman Symphony Orchestra and Melbourne Bach Choir, conducted by Rick Prakhoff, this world premiere will illuminate a part of Australia’s story the public was not meant to see.

Luke Styles’ first Australian opera, Ned Kelly, premiered to critical acclaim at the 2019 Perth Festival and his song cycle, On Bunyah, premiered at Wigmore Hall, London. He is currently working on numerous projects including a new work for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra as part of its 50 Fanfares Project to re-open the Sydney Opera House.

This production is being made possible thanks to the generous philanthropic support of the Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust, Planet Wheeler, Gandel Philanthropy, the Robert Salzer Foundation, Kids off Nauru and a number of private donors.

Price range

Private Decks
Lawn Deck for up to 6 guests: $180 - $300
Terrace Deck for up to 4 guests: $180

Stalls Tables
Table for up to 2 guests: $110 - $130
Table for up to 4 guests: $220 - $260

Seat for 1 guest: $45
Seats for up to 2 guests: $90

Babies under 24 months do not need a ticket.

Each order incurs a $9.35 Service Fee

Your booking reserves a private, designated area. All group bookings must be made in one transaction for contact tracing purposes. Sidney Myer Music Bowl is operating at reduced 25% capacity. We recommend booking early to avoid missing out.

Find out more information on our Venue and Tickets page →


Composer | Luke Styles
Librettist | Behrouz Boochani
Translator and Collaborator | Omid Tofighian
Soloist | Adrian Tamburini Bass Baritone
Conductor | Rick Prakhoff
Choir | Melbourne Bach Choir
Guest Concertmaster | Wilma Smith
Concertmaster | Susan Pierotti


This event is all ages, however guests under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Sidney Myer Music Bowl has been transformed into a socially distanced COVIDSafe space. For more information visit our Staying Safe page.

We play rain, hail or shine. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is an outdoor amphitheatre. If rain or bad weather occurs, the show will proceed, unless deemed unsafe to do so.


Open captioning will be available at No Friend but The Mountains on Sunday 21 March. For this event, captions will be displayed on all screens at the Bowl, enabling the audience to read what is being said. We recommend that patrons requiring the service do not book seating at the back of the lawn, where captioning sightlines may be compromised.

For detailed access information for the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, please visit our Accessibility page →

Sidney Myer Music Bowl Asia TOPA AR Rahman credit Mark Gambino 7945

Principal Partner: Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Maestro Partners: Planet Wheeler, Gandel Philanthropy

Symphony Partners: The Robert Salzer Foundation, Kids off Nauru

Event Partners: Arts Centre Melbourne, Creative Victoria, The Wheeler Centre

Private Partners: Suzanne Maple-Brown, Katrina and Simon Holmes à Court, Kay Ronec, Anonymous