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3 May 2016

Composer David Page dies at 55

Composer David Page dies at 55

Award-winning composer and Bangarra's music director David Page has died on 28 April 2016 at the age of 55. He wrote music for 27 works by Bangarra, a leading Australian dance company and an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander organisation.

His music was an integral part of productions such as Praying Mantis Dreaming (1992), Ochres (1995), Ninni (1996), Fish (1997), Skin (2000), Corroboree (2001), Bush (2003), Unaipon/Clan (2004), Boomerang (2005), X300 (2007) and Mathinna (2008). In 2010, Page created the musical soundscape for Bangarra's of earth & sky and, in 2011, was appointed artist in residence with Bangarra, composing music for the company's new program Belong for which he and Steve Francis received the Helpmann Award for Best Original Score.

In his role as resident composer, he created the score for Stephen Page's work Warumuk - in the dark night as a part of the Australian Ballet's 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2012, and Frances Ring's work Terrain that same year. In 2013 he collaborated with Paul Mac to create the soundscape for Blak and composed the music for Dance Clan 3 with contributions by Huey Benjamin and Steve Francis.

In 2014 David Page performed in the QTC and Sydney Festival production Black Diggers and composed the soundscape for Bangarra's Patyegarang, choreographed by his brother and Bangarra's artistic director Stephen Page.

In 2015, he composed the music for the film Spear, directed by Stephen Page. His composer colleague Christopher Sainsbury said of his music for this film,

'It showed him as a master exponent of the studio as an instrument in his composition, and a master of bringing about "land and cultural spaces" to his listeners - with an almost palpable sense. And if we're thinking of, hearing or experiencing the land via his work (as I do), then it starts to suggest a big conception of the relationship of music and place, and how he mitigated our experience of that through his work.'

David Page contributed music to the Opening Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival and, in 2002, the Sydney Dreaming Festival. He composed music for the Australian Ballet's Alchemy (1997) and collaborated with composer Elena Kats-Chernin on Amalgamate (2007). His numerous television credits include music for 'Heartland, Pride' (part of the Seven Deadly Sins series) and Poison for the ABC, and themes for Songlines, Living Black and Pioneers of Love for SBS. His short film scores include Round Up, Passing Through, Grace and Saturday Night Sunday Morning, and five of the thirteen Bit of Black Business AFC short film series. He also composed for the short film Jacob, selected for the 2009 Melbourne International Film Festival.

David Page won four Deadly's Sound Awards, an ARIA nomination for Heartland in 1996, and was the inaugural winner of the Indigenous Artist Award for the Sidney Myer Foundation in 2000. He also received the 2006 Green Room Award for his solo performance in Page 8 as the Best New Australian Play. He received a Helpmann Award for Best Original Score for Mathinna in 2009.

He studied saxophone, voice, composition and song at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM) at Adelaide University.

David Page was a descendant of the Nunukul people and the Munaldjali clan of the Yugambeh tribe from South Eastern Queensland.

Further links

Bangarra - dance company homepage

'Vale Mr Page, Bangarra Music Director and resident composer' - statement by Federal Minister for the Arts, Mitch Fifield (29 April)

'Bangarra Dance Theatre shattered by death of composer David Page'' - The Sydney Morning Herald (29 April 2016)

'Bangarra legend David Page dead at 55' - National Indigenous Times (29 April 2016)

'Charismatic songman and shape-shifter David Page dies at 55' - The Australian (30 April 2016)

'David Page, award-winning music director of Bangarra, dies aged 55' - The Guardian (29 April 2016)

'Vale David Page' - ArtsHub (29 April 2016)

'David Page has died' - Limelight (29 April 2016)

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