This traditional folk song, The Black Velvet Band, has versions from Ireland, Australia, England, Canada and the United States. It tells of a young man being tricked and betrayed by a pretty girl, resulting in his being charged with theft and sentenced to transportation for seven years to the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land.
Transportation to the British colonies in Australia was a much-used sentence by British and Irish courts in the 18th and 19th centuries. Seven years penal servitude, as dished out in The Black Velvet Band, was commonplace.
These two arrangements of The Black Velvet Band are part of a larger collection of choral arrangements of 20 Australian folk song titles. The works were commissioned in 2022 by the Queensland Kodály Choir as a legacy project of Australian Choral Music and are collectively available in a two-part anthology titled On a Distant Shore.
The Queensland Kodály Choir has generously determined that these anthologies and all of their associated resources should be made freely available to anyone who would like to make use of them. To facilitate this, whilst each of the arrangements is copyright, the full set of project resources has been licensed under Creative Commons International Licence, meaning that they can be freely shared, copied and/or redistributed.
Conductors/choirs wishing to access the Anthology – Parts 1 & 2 – and/or the companion rehearsal tracks, can do so by following the link to the Cuskelly College of Music website. The complete individual titles (including cover title page, vocal score, piano accompaniment, extracted instrument parts, performance notes and glossary of terms) are available in the Anthology Catalogue on this website.
Perusal and download copies of the two arrangements of The Black Velvet Band are available below.