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Article: Breaking Sound Barriers

  • by David Bentley — © News Limited
  • Source: Source: Courier-Mail, 11 November 2006 pg 24
  • Only 10% of this article's text is displayed below for reference purposes.
    Please contact the copyright holder/source publication to obtain the full article.

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 ...


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