“With his prodigious musicality and the quiet conviction of his Kalkadunga heritage, Barton has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo – and the culture and landscape that it represents.” – Australian Arts Review
William Barton is one of Australia’s most revered artists. A prolific creator, collaborator, and celebrated didgeridoo player, his deep knowledge of music and culture is embedded in his performing and compositions.
He was immersed in traditional art and culture as a child, learning the didgeridoo from his uncle, Arthur Peterson, an elder of the Waanyi, Lardil and Kalkadunga people. From humble beginnings, his mastery of the instrument has led him on an exceptional path and has seen the didgeridoo and Barton’s distinct musical sound featured in concert halls around the world.
Increasingly creating his own powerful collection of compositions, William Barton’s music evokes the rich complexities of the Australian landscape and experience. This performance for Finding Our Voice features Barton alongside his hand-picked ensemble of exceptional classical and jazz-fusion colleagues Simon Barker, Scott Tinkler, Véronique Serret, Chloe Kim – created in collaboration with Simon Barker (drums) and Scott Tinkler (trumpet).
About the piece:
We become the spirit of the land. We become the whisper of the wind through the trees. We become the embodiment of nature. A reflective interpretation of landscape, we with our instruments in tune with each other’s own journeys and experience connect and form harmony, rhythm, silence and nuances, the feeling of all existence. The connection to place.
Language is birthed into the streaming rivers that flow – a continuum of language of the earth passed from generation to generation. The seedling of life begins full circle as the trees of life breathe into the sky. Even when the rivers' water flow slows to a stand still, the crystal clear prism of knowledge that is held within each water drop remains strong.
Moments of breath. Looking back at earth from the Universe, beyond
As the new growth of the Spinifex reaches the sky, the sunlights translucent energy gives warmth to the home of a small ant producing the Spinifex wax. A symbol of strength to strengthen the spear tip of culture and lore of the land.
Artistic Director and Executive Producer of Finding Our Voice, Genevieve Lacey, says: “William Barton is central to any celebration of Australian music. He’s been a pioneer for decades, sharing his instrument, voice, and his generous, beautiful musicianship far and wide. Deeply expressive, Barton’s compositions and performances come from long relationships with land, family, and culture.”
Premiere: Sydney Opera House, November 2022. Commissioned by Sydney Opera House, enabled by New Work Now program donors and presented in association with UKARIA and Finding Our Voice.
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In the not-too-distant-future, Finding Our Voice will be able to be experienced digitally, and we will create and share experiences, skills and resources online with diverse audiences and communities. Performance footage, interviews, commentary, insights into creative processes will sit alongside educational resources and activities stimulating participation — deepening musical engagement and equipping people to express their own creativity.