2011 APRA AWARDS FINALIST:The Song Company with William Barton

“An imaginative bringing together of unlikely collaborators… a sonic and visual experience of the Australian night and day as seen through the eyes of William Barton. The story line and staging engaged the audience in an inclusive and personal atmosphere”.

This is the reason why “Kalkadunga Man” is finalist in the Performance of the Year awards by APRA, the winner of which will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday) night, May 3rd. The performance opened the 2009 season of The Song Company and featured William Barton playing the didgeridoo with a backdrop of images created by photographer Alan Shawner which transported the audience to the heart of Barton’s ancestral lands.

SoundsLikeSydney spoke to Roland Peelman, Artistic Director of The Song Company about the lead up to the concert.  He saw nothing exceptional about preparing the vocal ensemble for this repertoire. “There is a natural organic connection between the human voice and the didgeridoo which is a smiple instrument and an extension of the breath” he commented.

He believes the recognition afforded the ensemble in this place amongst finalists is not because the didgeridoo was a feature. “It is not new for singers to sing with a didgeridoo. We went further into a particular Aboriginal idiom by espousing the language, the country and the near extinct tradition of singing in the Kalkadunga people. We made a genuine attempt to share cultures on a similar platform and not at a superficial level.

In understanding this fusion of different music traditions, it’s hard not to observe that the didgeridoo plays just one pitch, whilst  Western music can modulate through many keys within one piece. Peelman explained that several different didgeridoos were used by Barton, each with a different pitch which became a fundamental note of the piece and around which the music revolved. 

Hard not to observe too, that Peelman directs two of the four finalists in these 2011 APRA Performance of the Year awards.

See also “The Origin Cycle”.

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