“Koordaboodjar Heartland for Flute and Harp” NSW Art Gallery, 18 April 2021

In March 2021 Dr. Sally Walker, a flute lecturer at the Australian National University, commissioned me to rearrange the third movement of my Kooranginy Suite (2017) for flute and harp. My rearrangement was performed by harpist Emily Granger and flautist Sally Walker, at the NSW Art Gallery’s 150th Anniversary Resonate Concert at 6.30 pm on Sunday 18 April 2021. This was the fastest composition commission I’ve ever completed, and it was a pleasure to work with Dr. Walker and harpist Emily Granger, who workshopped my rearrangement with me before the concert, and organized my attendance at the premiere of the work, as a guest composer.

Rehearsing my flute / harp arrangement of Koordaboodjar Heartland with flautist Dr. Sally Walker and harpist Emily Granger, April 2021

This was my first time composing for harp, since my 2017 ensemble version of this piece, performed at Eora Aboriginal College, was for wind, cello and percussion. Emily and Sally’s expert advice, cultural sensitivity and artistry in rehearsal were invaluable, and their concert performance succeeded in illuminating the character and intent of my music, in sensitive, lyrical and dramatic ways.

The structure of Koordaboodjar Heartland is threefold, moving from conflict, to sadness, to hope. My poem of the same name, and the voice of my country, from which this music arose, echoes the call to a just resolution of extended conflict, found in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart. The untexted, unvoiced melodies of Koordaboodjar Heartland, inspired by my heritage, and indicative of the unnecessarily silenced voices of Australia’s First Nations, evoked an empathetic response from the large audience of arts patrons and benefactors present at the Resonate concert, as the music told of an unheard call for justice and Treaty, and demanded a just, overdue settlement. I was moved and gratified by this response.

Thanks to all involved in presenting my music, and congratulations to all the other musicians and composers on the concert program, among whom were Kim and Heather Cunio, Rachael Thoms and composer Ross Edwards.

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