He's changed the face of classical music, confirming the
didgeridoo as a "serious" instrument and sparking a new genre of
Australian works. Meet William Barton, a breath of fresh air in
concert halls around the world.
William has an aura that people are drawn to. He's immediate, raw
and unique - all of this in a time when so much of what
we are exposed to has been manicured and packaged.
I wanted to become a contemporary instrumentalist I listened to
classical music on the radio and I could hear how a didgeridoo
would fit in with an orchestra.
It's one of those unforgettable outback days:
warm winter sunshine beneath a sky of cobalt blue. The entire
community of McKinlay in north-west Queensland has turned out for
the township's annual race meeting, the ladies splendid in
picture hats, the men in moleskins and riding boots. They've come
from surrounding cattle properties and mining sites to watch
horses gallop around an isolated dirt track and to catch up with
local gossip. After the races, they gather in a cavernous shed
for beer and other refreshments, talking volubly, oblivious to a
small group of musicians tuning their instruments.
Then the group launches into Australian composer Peter
Sculthorpe's Songs of Sea and Sky and the racegoers, one by one,
fall spellbound. The musicians include four string players and
one with a didgeridoo. Framed by strings, the didgeridoo evokes
dust, heat, stony plateaus and timeless gidgee country. Everyone
in that bush shed experiences a sense of connection, as if the
instrument has tapped directly into their emotions.
William Barton has not been ...