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Ngarra-Burria: First Peoples Composers - 2019 edition


What is Ngarra-Burria?

Ngarra-Burria are Dharug words meaning to hear, to sing.

Ngarra-Burria is a program that builds bridges for First Peoples musicians to step forward, further develop their composing skills, and connect with the art music* sector. The program was initiated by Dharug composer Chris Sainsbury. In 2019, it was delivered by a partnership between Moogahlin Performing Arts, the Australian Music Centre, ANU School of Music, Ensemble Offspring and the Royal Australian Navy Band, with funding support from APRA AMCOS, and in-kind support from EORA College of TAFE.

* Art music is defined by, but not limited to, the spectrum of contemporary classical/new music; contemporary original jazz and improvisatory practice; the broad spectrum of experimental practice, embracing sound art and installation, computer music, and more.

Ngarra-Burria 2019

In November 2019, Ngarra-Burria's artists James Henry, Nardi Simpson and Eric Avery were busy preparing for the final concert in Sydney on 5 December, also featuring music by the 2018 program participant, composer Brenda Gifford. Their works will be performed by the Australian Royal Navy Band at the ABC’s Eugene Goossens Hall.

Composer mentors through 2019 were Deborah Cheetham, Kim Cunio and Chris Sainsbury.

In 2019 the program provided for its participants:

  • The opportunity to write work/s for recording and performance by the 2019 resident ensemble, the Royal Australian Navy Band.
  • Periodic face-to-face mentoring sessions with program facilitators, developing the work/s
  • 2 workshops with the performers during the year, developing and refining the work/s
  • Involvement in ANU School of Music sessions around mid-year
  • Attending rehearsals, recording, and a performance recital in Canberra, followed by a performance in Sydney
  • A modest honorarium, along with travel costs to attend workshops/recording session.

> Read Chris Sainsbury's report about the 2019 program on Resonate.

> Read a blog article by 2019 participant Nardi Simpson

Eric Avery

Violinist and contemporary dancer Eric Avery's practice explores the relationship between Indigenous and non-indigenous forms and narratives through the combination of dance and music. His recent solo (Dancing with Strangers - Marrugeku) explored stories, of first contact/invasion, from his family, and also his own story of reconnecting with his language (Ngiyampaa).

> Eric Avery - biography

James Henry

Due to his diverse skills and broad interest across genres, James Henry has been in high demand in recent years as a composer and sound designer. He has been the musical director of 'Tanderrum', the Melbourne festival opening ceremony for three years running, sound designer for various Ilbijerri productions as well as City of Melbourne commissions. He has performed as part of the Black Arm Band on tours of the UK and US, Archie Roach's 'Into the Bloodstream' tour, and Buried Country's national tour, just to name a few. He performs as a singer/songwriter in his own right, influenced by 1960's pop/rock/folk melodists such as the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel. He has also worked as a electronic music producer, DJ and songwriting workshop facilitator.

> James Henry - biography

Nardi Simpson

Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay writer, musician, composer and educator from NSW's North Wast freshwater plains. A founding member of Indigenous folk duo Stiff Gins, Nardi has been performing nationally and internationally for the past twenty years. She writes about her experience as participant of the program:

Ngarra-Burria, put simply, has reinvigorated my ears, my mind and my spirit. It is not only a music program. It is a program about cultural responsibility, about singing land and story and country, and about what we Yuwaalaraay call the strengthening of dhuwi - our deepest breath, our essence - our soul.

Read a blog article by Nardi Simpson (Resonate)
> Nardi Simpson - biography

Program partners

Ngarra-Burria First Peoples Composers is a partnership between Moogahlin Performing Arts, ANU School of Music, the Australian Music Centre through the AMPlify artist development framework, Ensemble Offspring, the Royal Australian Navy Band, and Eora College, with financial support from an APRA AMCOS music grant.