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28 November 2019

Ngarra-Burria has reinvigorated my ears, my mind and my spirit

Nardi Simpson Image: Nardi Simpson  

Yuwaalaraay writer, musician, composer & educator Nardi Simpson is a participating artist in the 2019 Ngarra-Burria - First Peoples Composers program. You can read about her experiences over the year in this blog article.

A free concert featuring work by participating artists Eric Avery, James Henry, Nardi Simpson and 2018 program participant Brenda Gifford will take place on 5 December at 7pm at Eugene Goossens Hall, Ultimo, Sydney. See also Facebook event, and Eventbrite for registering free seats.

For coming on to twenty-one years, I have been lucky enough to spend most of that time writing and performing music. This has taken me to some amazing places and led me to amazing people, all while singing alongside my best friend. A pretty good ride, a charmed life even. So as the gigs dried up, the inspiration for songs wained and the crowds began to dwindle, I felt okay. I was forty-something, a woman, and black, I had lasted longer than most. It had been a pretty good ride.

When Chris rang and asked if I'd be interested in an Indigenous composers program, I was browsing the shelves in Dymocks, looking for self-help books on retraining for the workplace.

'It would be good to see you again. The project sounds great. At Eora? Wow! Our old stomping ground.'

I had little clue, then, that Chris's words were not only an invitation to an extraordinary program, but where breathing life back into a career and a passion I thought was gone.

This year I have meet more amazing people; carillionists , six-malleted percussionists, sailors, professors and ethnomusicologists. I have learned about, then written for saxophones, flutes, trombones even. I have been given the opportunity to experience the joy of new sounds and new possibilities. It feels like I'm twenty years old again!

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.

Ngarra-Burria and everyone that works and talks, negotiates and plays, I now look forward to the next twenty years, all the new people I will meet, places I will go, things I will learn and music I will write. What a way to see in my sixties! Who should be so lucky? And who could ask for more?

Ngarra-Burria is delivered by a partnership between Moogahlin Performing Arts, the AMC, ANU School of Music, and Ensemble Offspring, with funding support from APRA AMCOS, and in-kind support from EORA College of TAFE, the Royal Australian Navy Band, and ABC Classic FM.

Further links

Ngarra-Burria - First Peoples Composers (AMC Online)

Nardi Simpson is a Yuwaalaraay writer, musician, composer and educator from North West NSW freshwater plains. A founding member of Indigenous folk duo Stiff Gins, Nardi has been performing nationally and internationally for 20 years. She is the Director of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Barayagal Choir and participant in the Ngarra-Burria program. Nardi’s recent work includes commissions from Sydney Living Museums, Sydney Philharmonic Choirs and the National Carillion. Her debut play Black Drop Effect will premiere at the 2020 Sydney Festival and her debut novel, winner of 2018 Black&Write! Indigenous Writers Fellowship – Song of the Crocodile - is due for release with Hatchette Australia in September 2020.
Nardi is a Gamilaraay Language teacher and cultural consultant.


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