Accolades globally have been poured on Australia’s leading didgeridoo player and composer William Barton. William’s release of Sculthorpe’s Requiem (ABC476 5692) in 2007 garnered a Gramophone Editors Choice, his last release in 2012 Kalkadungu (ABC476 4834) listed by ArtsDesk in the UK as one of their top 12 classical releases for 2012, and in the same year won the ARIA Award for Best Classical Album in Australia.
Barton’s new offering - BIRDSONG AT DUSK - presents an album that seamlessly fuses Aboriginal indigenous music and classical music.
William explains: “I was inspired to write Birdsong at Dusk at a friend's beach house in Mango Avenue in Mackay, in far north-western Queensland. The waves of the ocean were floating upon the sand while the birds were singing their song. With a piano close to the verandah, I began to write: overlooking the inlet on a low tide, the sun drifting to meet the sky, I listened to the birdsong at dusk.”
William has a regular presence in the Northern Hemisphere as a perfomer. He premiered Sculthorpe’s Requiem at the Litchfield Festival in 2007, performed at the opening ceremony at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has jammed with violinst Lara St. John on the chaconne from Bach’s second partita and appeared as a soloist with the London and Berlin Philharmonic after which conductor Sir Simon Rattle said ‘It's a sound I had heard before, but never with that sort of technique. The possibilities are extraordinary. This is a great man…’
In 2014 William has concerts with the Hamburg Phiharmoniker in July, and concerts in the USA including orchestras in Fresno and Reno in September.
William played his first classical concert with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at the age of 17. Through his collaborations and projects, William aims to present the virtuosic potential of his instrument and the richness of his heritage and Australian culture to audiences throughout the world. William hopes that by infusing indigenous aboriginal sounds with ‘western’ music audiences will look beyond the exotic antiquity of the instrument and respect the considerable technique, stamina and study, equal to that demanded of any conventional classically trained professional musician.
‘this Requiem is all about displacements….a remarkably placid if troubled setting of the Dies Irae is followed by a ravishing Canticle in the form of a setting of an Aboriginal lullaby, itself followed by an extended cadenza for didgeridoo, brilliantly performed by William Barton…’ IRR reviewing Sculthorpe’s Requiem in 2007