DIDGERIDOO
COMMISSION
PROJECT

Southern Cross Soloists respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians & First Nation owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We also recognise those whose ongoing effort to protect and promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures will leave a lasting legacy for future Elders and leaders.

Southern Cross Soloists is committed to cultivating a 21st century musical ecosystem that explores cultural responsiveness and expression through commissioning and performing works of Australian composers, whilst providing audiences with a broader menu of cultural offerings.

 

One aspect of this commitment is nurturing First Nation's representation in our arts practices to promote cultural understanding. Our renewed focus for 2022-2032 is to respond to this commitment by creating the ‘SXS Didgeridoo Commission Project': a legacy of new Australian works for didgeridoo and small ensemble with our Artist in Residence, Wakka Wakka didgeridoo soloist Chris Williams.

 

For our 2022 Season, Southern Cross Soloists will commission three new 8-10 minute works for didgeridoo and small ensemble to be premiered in our 2022 QPAC Concert Series. These commissions form part of a legacy project that is committed to creating a substantial canon of works for didgeridoo and small ensemble over the next 10 years for Southern Cross Soloists and Chris Williams.

 

Having appointed Chris as our permanent Artist in Residence in late 2019, SXS is excited to be evolving into a completely new artistic space to create our own unique hybrid music. Chris is unique as a musician as he has worked extensively as a professional trumpet player in the customary classical music space, from orchestra to solo, including with leading orchestras in London, Europe and across Australia, and in the jazz genre. SXS is committed to to establishing a valuable legacy of new works for didgeridoo over the next 10 years, with the aim to create a substantial new canon of works by the time Brisbane takes to the world stage with the 2032 Olympics.

INTRODUCING

CHRIS WILLIAMS, DIDGERIDOO
SXS ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

 

Kay Feeney & Christine Dauber Chair

A descendant of the Wakka Wakka people from Queensland, Australia, Didgeridoo player Chris Williams, began his music studies from an early age. He studied his Masters degree in Classical Trumpet Performance at the Royal College of Music in London. Chris has toured with various music ensembles through Europe and Asia and has also played trumpet professionally with The Hong Kong Sinfonietta and several of Australia’s professional orchestras. As Artist In Residence with Southern Cross Soloists, Chris is one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo soloists. As a didgeridoo soloist Chris has performed in various countries including Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Australia, Ireland, France, Austria, the UK, Italy, The Holy See, South Africa and Israel. In many of these countries he conducted workshops at various schools and institutions and was able to share about the Indigenous Australian Culture.

 

Chris was principal trumpet with the Australian Youth Orchestra for two years and has been on contract with the Tasmanian Symphony and as Principal Trumpet with Hong Kong Sinfonietta. He has appeared as guest principal trumpet with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Queensland Pops Orchestra. Chris has performed as a trumpet soloist with the Hobart Chamber Orchestra, the Queensland Pops Orchestra and the Australian Army Band. He was nominated for the Australian Freedman Fellowship award for Jazz and for the Australian Young Achiever Award twice.

VISIT CHRIS WILLIAMS' WEBSITE >

INTRODUCING

CHRIS WILLIAMS, DIDGERIDOO
SXS ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

 

Kay Feeney & Christine Dauber Chair

Photo: Giselle Images

MEET THE COMPOSERS

SXS will commission three new works of 8-10 minutes for our 2022 QPAC Concert Series Australian composers, developed in close collaboration with Chris Williams and Indigenous cultural consultant Paula Nazarski. This helps to ensure the creation of culturally respectful works that promote dialogue and understanding of the past and present, with a view towards a reconciled future. This substantial collaboration between Chris Williams and composers will push the boundaries of how the didgeridoo is used in Australian Art Music. We are aiming is to create a uniquely Australian hybrid sound where the ancient musical voice of the didgeridoo is an equal conversation partner with traditional Western instruments, in order to create an equilibrium of instruments and conversational musical style.

SEAN O'BOYLE AM

Composer Sean O'Boyle has extensive experience in composing for the didgeridoo, having composed his didgeridoo concerto for William Barton that ranked #32 in the ABC Classic FM's “The Classic 100 Concertos”. Sean has also worked closely with Dr Hal Kacenic who created a system of notation for the didgeridoo solo part that Chris Williams has been performing from. In 2020 & 2021 Sean created a chamber version of his concerto for Chris and SXS to perform extensively throughout Queensland and for Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, and is currently working closely with Chris and SXS to create a free online composers' resource to provide insights into composing for the didgeridoo.

LEAH CURTIS

Composer Leah Curtis is a highly successful concert and film composer who works extensively in Australia and the United States. Having studied with John Corigliano, Leah's compositions have been performed by major orchestras in Australia, the USA and Europe and at the Park City Film Music Festival and Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Leah is highly experienced in cross cultural collaborations and a new work from a composer of this international pedigree will be an excellent addition to the repertoire for didgeridoo and small ensemble.

CATHERINE LIKHUTA

Brisbane-based composer, Catherine Likhuta has had her compositions played around the world, including at Carnegie Hall and at Glyndebourne Opera House. Catherine has held residencies at Tyalgum Music Festival, North Carolina New Music Initiative and the University of Georgia. She is a two-time winner of the International Horn Society Composition Contest (virtuoso division).  Catherine's musical style exhibits high emotional charge and rhythmic complexity that will be perfectly suited to creating a new work for SXS' QPAC Concert in February 2022.

COMPOSER WORKSHOPS &

EDUCATION RESOURCES

 

+ Chris Williams

+ Sean O'Boyle

+ Southern Cross Soloists

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Currently, SXS are developing a digital guide for composers writing for didgeridoo, developed in collaboration with Chris Williams, composer

Sean O'Boyle and Southern Cross Soloists.

 

Through the collaborative nature of the Didgeridoo Commission Project, we are aiming to encourage more composers to write works for didgeridoo. As such, throughout the creative process, SXS will host open workshops for composers to offer insights into the use of the didgeridoo, and all new works will be performed extensively as part of SXS touring programs.

The SXS Didgeridoo Commission Project greatly enhances SXS's scope to make a tangible contribution to the Australian art music canon, through promoting cross cultural genres in chamber music. The outcomes of the project will include increased cultural learnings across broad generational demographics which provide unique experiences for both audiences and the artists.

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Photos: Maxine Williamson

SXS TALKS:
CHRIS WILLIAMS AND
SEAN O'BOYLE

SXS sits down with composer Sean O’Boyle and Artist In Residence Chris Williams to discuss the Concerto for Didgeridoo by Sean O’Boyle/William Barton.

The innovative combination of the didgeridoo–an ancient musical voice of Indigenous Australia–with the traditional European classical orchestra has become somewhat of an iconic medium. Born out of a collaboration between maestro William Barton and the composer, the Concerto for Didgeridoo by Sean O’Boyle and William Barton sits among a body of wonderfully unconventional compositions by leading Australian composers. After its conception, O’Boyle’s concerto soon earned a permanent place in the Australian classical repertoire; ranking #32 in ABC Classic FM’s “The Classic 100 Concertos” and ranked #87 in the 2011 ABC Classic 100 “20th Century”.

How did you approach the cultural assimilation of western classical music and Australia’s First Nations People?

SOB: I looked at it from the viewpoint that the comparatively young western classical tradition could meld with the ancient didgeridoo tradition. We chose the themes of "Earth", "Wind", "Water" and "Fire". There is also extensive use of a bullroarer and clapsticks. The didgeridoo was treated as an improvising instrument and this gave enormous scope to the work.

On the whole, how does the musical assimilation of western classical music with musical traditions belonging to Australia’s First Nations People sit with you? Are there successful examples of this? Where does the concerto fit in this narrative?

CW: For me, the Didgeridoo is about storytelling and communicating the heart and voice of a people, groups and places. We have a distinct shared history in Australia, with an understanding of the past and present, with a view towards a reconciled future. This idea can be given a powerful voice through musical collaborations like these. Both art forms are dear to my heart. In a lot of ways, I think the merging of the two reflect the world we live in today.

 

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW ON THE SXS BLOG >

PERFORMANCE HISTORY

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Photo courtesy of Melbourne Digital Concert Hall

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Since our first collaboration with William Barton in 2008, Southern Cross Soloists has pioneered a growing repertoire of cross-collaborative works that feature didgeridoo soloist.


Joe Twist – The Ancient Rainforest

for mixed chamber ensemble and didgeridoo soloist

Sunday September 5, 2021

Dreams and Visions, QPAC Concert Hall

Chris Williams, didgeridoo

World Premiere performance

Sean O’Boyle/William Barton – Didgeridoo Concerto

for mixed chamber ensemble and didgeridoo soloist

Thursday July 22, 2021

Brisbane Gala, Melbourne Digital Concert Hall

Chris Williams, didgeridoo

Wednesday November 18, 2020

Dusk Recitals; Chris Williams in Concert with Southern Cross Soloists

Bleach* Festival, Burleigh Hub, Gold Coast

Chris Williams, didgeridoo

Sunday October 18, 2020

SXS Returns, QPAC Concert Hall

Chris Williams, didgeridoo

 

John Rotar – Ginan: Songs of Knowledge

for mixed chamber ensemble and didgeridoo soloist

 

 Sunday July 21, 2019

Maps and Journeys, QPAC Concert Hall

Chris Williams, didgeridoo

William Barton – Square Circles Beneath the Sand

for mixed chamber ensemble and didgeridoo soloist

Saturday August 19, 2017

Concert Five ‘Spirit of the People’, Bangalow A&I Hall

Annual Bangalow Music Festival 2017

William Barton, didgeridoo soloist

Joe Twist/William Barton – Bangalow Dreamsong

for mixed chamber ensemble and didgeridoo soloist

 

Featuring William Barton in collaboration with Southern Cross Soloists and community choirs from the Northern Rivers region

Saturday August 19, 2017

Festival Prelude, Bangalow A&I Hall

 2017 Annual Bangalow Music Festival

World Premiere performance

William Barton, didgeridoo/voice soloist

William Barton – I dream of sacred … I am my dream

for soprano, didgeridoo and mixed chamber ensemble

    

Recorded for ABC Classics

William Barton

Kalkadungu: Music for Didgeridoo and Orchestra

YouTube >   Spotify >

Australian Music Centre >

Tuesday August 4, 2009

Cocktail Chat with Piers Lane, Jupiters Townsville

2009 Australian Festival of Chamber Music

William Barton, didgeridoo soloist

Wednesday August 27, 2008

State Library of Queensland, Brisbane

World Premiere performance

 William Barton, didgeridoo soloist