On June 1st 1979, the Melbourne Boîte hosted their ‘opening concert’ at the Actors Theatre in Church Street Richmond. An intimate venue, the Theatre sat at the rear of the office of the Victorian Parliamentary Member for Richmond, Theo Sidiropoulos, who just a year earlier, had introduced himself with pride to the House of Representatives, ‘as its first non-English migrant member.’
The Melbourne Boîte ‘opening concert’ featured Andean folk band Apurima, Greek musicians the Tsourdalakis Brothers, Indigenous performers Bwung-Gul, a New Guinean dance performance and Sydney founding member Peter Carantinos performing as a member of the Greek duo Pietro & Eleni.
To the performers, the concert provided a welcomed opportunity to play to a new audience. To members of the committee, the concert was launching a new program of monthly concerts designed not only to entertain, but to educate audiences about the rich cultural heritage migrants were bringing to the Victorian community.
To some members of the Melbourne committee, who were active in a broader struggle to assert the cultural rights of migrants in Melbourne (in the areas of education, ethnic broadcasting and workers rights) the concert also represented an act of political defiance following the 1977 closure of multi-lingual Access radio station 3ZZ by the Fraser Government:
And so began a program of monthly concert events at which audiences were provided with detailed programme notes to educate about the musical traditions and instruments featured in performances, as well as aspects of the social and political history of the countries of origin.