About this video: Deborah Cheetham AO and Syzygy Ensemble perform Song for Dulka Warngiid in the Primrose Potter Salon on Monday 27 May 2019.

About the artists: Deborah Cheetham AO, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator, has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Cheetham was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for ‘distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance’. In 2009, Deborah Cheetham established Short Black Opera as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers. The following year she produced the premiere of her first opera, Pecan Summer. This landmark work was Australia’s first Indigenous opera and has been a vehicle for the development of a new generation of Indigenous opera singers. In March 2015 she was inducted onto the Honour Roll of Women in Victoria and in April 2018 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia for her pioneering work and achievements in music. In the decade since its formation, Syzygy Ensemble has gained a reputation as one of the finest new music ensembles in Australia, lauded for its virtuoso precision, innovative programming, and the ability to connect viscerally with its audiences. Committed to the heritage works of last century as well as the newest works being written here and now, Syzygy has given critically acclaimed performances of Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, as well as being entrusted with the premiere of over 50 new Australian works – most of which have been written especially for the ensemble. Apart from having a regular subscription series at the Centre, Syzygy has had great success touring regional Australia, allowing remote audiences the chance to experience (and even participate in) contemporary masterworks. Its debut CD, Making Signs, was released in 2015 to critical acclaim. The Ensemble’s follow-up album, consisting entirely of works it has commissioned, is in production this year.

About the Merlyn Myer Music Commission: The 2019 Merlyn Myer Music Commission has been awarded to Yorta Yorta composer and soprano Deborah Cheetham AO. Deborah’s new work responds to the magnificent Dulka Warngiid tapestry displayed in the Centre and is part of her new suite Woven Song. Established in 2015 by the Merlyn Myer Fund and codeveloped by the Fund and Melbourne Recital Centre, the commission was founded to support one accomplished professional female composer in Australia biennially. Recipients include Sally Greenaway in 2015 and Andrea Keller in 2017. This initiative continues in 2019 and beyond with the support of The Aranday Foundation and the Yulgilbar Foundation as part of Melbourne Recital Centre’s 10th Anniversary commissioning program.


LISA CHENEY (b.1987) 00:18
When we speak

ROSALIND PAGE (b.1956) 12:50
Being and Time
II Tabula Rasa

ALICE HUMPHRIES (b. 1986) 23:07

DEBORAH CHEETHAM (b. 1964) 45:21
Song for Dulka Warngiid – world premiere

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