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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

Show your support for refugee and asylum seeker artists and donate here. You can also donate to our community partner organisations, Refugee Voices and Refugee Action Collective.

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

$45 - $260 ($20 - $65 per guest)
+ $9.35 Service Fee per order

Lawn decks and Balcony still available

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.

Walkley Award-winning journalist Rafel Epstein will be MC for this world premiere and will feature in a short video before the performance where he interviews Behrouz Boochani.

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
Each order incurs a $9.35 Service Fee

There are 3 ticket categories for Live at the Bowl. Each option reserves a designated area for a group of people and must be booked in one transaction. You are welcome to book a group ticket for fewer guests than specified, however you will receive and pay for all seats within the designated area.

Private Decks - Available
Lawn Deck for up to 6 guests: $120 - $200 ($20 - $33.35 per guest)
Terrace Deck for up to 4 guests: $180 ($45 per guest)

Stalls Tables - Allocation exhausted
Table for up to 2 guests: $110 - $130 ($55 - $65 per guest)
Table for up to 4 guests: $220 - $260 ($55 - $65 per guest)

Balcony - Available
Seat for 1 guest: $45
Seats for up to 2 guests: $90 ($45 per guest)

Ticket categories

So how does it work? Sidney Myer Music Bowl has been transformed into a socially distanced COVIDSafe space. Find out more information about each of the ticket options available.


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


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

Warning: contains references to suicide and self-harm. If this content raises concerns for you or someone you know, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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


Surtitles will be displayed on all screens during the event’s musical elements, enabling the audience to read what is being sung. We recommend that patrons who rely on surtitles do not book seating at the back of the lawn, where sightlines may be compromised.

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

This performance has been made possible by supporters of the Arts Centre Melbourne Recovery Fund. With thanks to our generous supporters this fund is helping kick-start a creative revival after COVID-19.
If you’d like to be part of the cultural recovery, donate here →

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Community Partners

No Friend but the Mountains: A Symphonic Song Cycle has collaborated with Refugee Voices and Refugee Action Collective to welcome the wider refugee community of Melbourne to this unique performance. Both organisations offer extensive support to communities across Australia, promoting access and involvement and celebrating their contributions to Australian art and culture.

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, Refugee Voices, Refugee Action Coalition, Melbourne Convention Centre

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