William Barton: Kalkadungu & Music for Didjerido and Orchestra (CD)

ABC Classics & Jazz
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From the time of his professional debut – aged 15 – onwards, anyone who witnessed William Barton playing didjeridu could recognize instantly that his was a once-in-a-generation talent. Here was a didjeridu player raised in the strictest of Indigenous tradition amongst the Kalkadunga people, but with a musical sensibility equally honed on AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and speed metal.

The works on this CD reflect the explosion that occurred in William Barton’s career following the mainstage success of Earth Cry in 2002, where he was in demand not just as a performer but also as a composer himself. As Sculthorpe began recasting his own orchestral music to include didjeridu, so too he became not just a personal friend but also a musical mentor to the 21-year-old Barton, teaching him the rudiments of Western musical notation and correcting William’s original scores that increasingly came to be commissioned by major musical ensembles both in Australia and internationally.

Another notable collaboration on this album is between composer Matthew Hindson and Barton. A commission from the Sydney Symphony allowed the two composers to work together on Kalkadungu, a large-scale orchestral work whose scintillating premiere performance at the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House in April 2008, captured here in the opening tracks, lends its title to the album as a whole.

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Barton, W:


Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Richard Gill

Didjeridu Solo No. 1

Voice and Didjeridu Improvisation No. 1

with Delmae Barton (vocals)

I Dream of Sacred...I am my Dream

Southern Cross Soloists

Didjeridu Solo No. 2

Voice and Didjeridu Improvisation No. 2

with Delmae Barton (vocals)

Didjeridu Solo No. 3


Earth Cry

The Queensland Orchestra, Michael Christie

Requiem: Communion

Adelaide Chamber Singers, Adelaide Symphony OrchestraArvo Volmer

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The Arts Desk

22nd September 2012

“Mere words can’t begin to describe the noise made by William Barton in full flow. It’s a sonorous, low roar that sets your stomach wobbling, made more startling by the array of harmonics and overtones which buzz around over the top. There’s also Barton’s sheer technique, circular breathing allowing him to sustain notes for improbable lengths...A potential disc of the year.”

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