The healing power of music and its potential to foster cross-cultural contact was celebrated at an event held last Tuesday at Melbourne’s Museo Italiano.

‘Lullabies and laments: a song circle’ was presented by Multicultural Museums Victoria (MMV) in partnership with The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, as part of the ‘Grandmothers’ project, the first of a series of collaborative exhibitions under MMV’s umbrella.

Women of all ages gathered in the morning song circle to share lullabies and folk tunes from Melbourne’s diverse communities, showcasing Greek, Italian, Yiddish and Russian musical tradition among others.

Participants were invited to perform or share a recording of the song and tell the accompanying story, either individually or in pairs and small groups.

The workshop was an opportunity for the beloved grandmothers to remember lullabies and laments, but also learn the songs of fellow singers and listen to their stories passed down through generations.

Samantha Dieckmann, the event’s facilitator is a postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Melbourne, whose current project explores the deployment of music in reconciliation. Her past work has examined in particular the ways in which cross-cultural musical contact and exchange enable identity formation and community development, through the lens of multiculturalism and integration.

Ms Dieckmann will also be facilitating the upcoming event ‘Songs from my Grandmother’, a public concert organised as part of the same partnership between MMV and The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Participants of the song circle workshop were encouraged to share their songs and stories at the upcoming concert which will feature solo and ensemble performances reflecting the roles grandmothers play within the multicultural family and community.

The ‘Songs from my Grandmother’ concert will take place on Wednesday 25 July at the Islamic Museum. The event is free but bookings are essential. For more information visit