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19 April 2021

Don Banks Music Award to William Barton

William Barton Image: William Barton  
© Keith Saunders

Kalkadunga composer and didjeridu virtuoso William Barton has been announced as the recipient of the 2021 Australia Council Don Banks Music Award.

At 40, Barton is easily the youngest Don Banks Music Award-winner thus far, having picked up his instrument at a very early age and making it to international stages in his mid-teens. A widely recognised master of his instrument, he has appeared with some of the world's most famous orchestras and played for audiences at the Olympic Games opening ceremonies, famous concert halls, private royal concerts and regional festivals. His musicianship today encompasses composition, improvisation and collaboration across musical genres.

William Barton has honorary doctorates from Griffith University (2009) and the University of Sydney (2010) and has been the resident artist at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers House (2020) and Artist in Residence Melbourne Recital Centre (2019). He has won an ARIA award for the best classical album (with Kalkadungu, 2012) and a Sydney Theatre Award for the Best Score in a Mainstage Production (for Long Forgotten Dream, 2018). In 2003 he shared the Freedman Classical Fellowship with pianist Tamara Anna Cislowska.

Barton talks about his earliest musical influences in the video accompanying the Award announcement, with the sound of the didjeridu as well as classical music both part of his musical upbringing in Mount Isa.

'The music, that I guess was implanted within my soul, came from Mum playing classical music to me as a child and before I was born. And the didjeridu and my culture, the yidaki and, you know, my uncle, Uncle Arthur Peterson, would play the yidaki - the didjeridu - with mum as well. And so I sort of took over that role shortly after my uncle died. I wanted to be a part of that mystery, that mystery of when I heard that sound of this ancient instrument, how powerful it was.'

Barton is interviewed on the video by Lyn Williams.

Winners of eight Australia Council Awards were made public in a video announcement by Australia Council for the Arts on Monday and will be further showcased on the Australia Council website this week.

Past Don Banks Music Award recipients include Deborah Conway AM (2020), David Bridie (2019), Liza Lim (2018), Lyn Williams OAM (2017), Brett Dean (2016), Archie Roach AM (2015), Mike Nock (2014) and Kev Carmody (2013).

> Awards announcement on the Australia Council for the Arts website.

> William Barton (AMC profile)

[Edited 28 April - video embed.]

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