Indigenous composers record new works at ANU

23 June 2017

We hope to articulate something of contemporary Indigenous culture and bring it to a wider audience

Emerging Indigenous composers from around Australia have recorded a series of new compositions at ANU under a new mentoring program run out of the ANU School of Music.

The five established Indigenous musicians from a range of musical backgrounds are taking a new step in their careers by moving into composing in jazz and new classical music styles under the inaugural Indigenous Composers Initiative at ANU.

Their works will be to be performed at a special concert and broadcast on national radio next month.    

Dr Chris Sainsbury from the ANU School of Music, who has Eora/Dharug heritage, is working with fellow mentor and jazz musician Kevin Hunt from the Sydney Conservatorium to offer tips on developing ideas and orchestration.

"This is a first in Australia for Indigenous musicians. Through the Initiative we hope to articulate something of contemporary Indigenous culture and bring it to a wider audience," Dr Sainsbury said.

Canberra-based musician Brenda Gifford, from the Yuin Nation, is originally from Wreck Bay on the NSW south coast. Her compositions, Bardju and Gambambara (Footprints and Spring) have been likened to an Indigenous version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Western Australian Elizabeth Sheppard of Nyoongar Yamatji heritage has incorporated a British military-style drum tattoo into her score, Yoora Tattoo to express her response to British invasion of country.

"I discovered that there was a military tattoo always played on foreign soil by invading British garrisons," she said.

"The piece just came to me. I've used gunshots in the interplay between the military and the Indigenous music and as it concludes, I've left it unresolved, like the present situation between black and white Australia."

Rapper and drummer, Rhyan Clapham is from Murrawarri and Ngemba country in Brewarrina in New South Wales. His work, Pitaara Yaan Muruwariki, is a rhythmical piece with begins with a sequence of language.