CASS Annual Public Lecture on Future Directions in Indigenous Research 2016
New thoughts on Indigenous music and the Australian music composition scene
By Dr Christopher Sainsbury
ANU School of Music
Dr Sainsbury will be speaking and performing.
He will be joined on stage by musicians:
They will be performing the Piece:
Brackish Songs— a 20mins repertoire item exploring place and belonging, and the mixed heritage of the composer.
The spirit of our land and specific places within it are recurrent themes in the music of numbers of Australian composers. However, much of this is conceived remotely from our lives in the cities, which suggests a hint of irony. Added to this, for many composers our Indigenous cultures remain a focus as we sense and define our individual belonging in the Australian land and evolving Australian culture. Whilst it is an understandable focus there have been many excursions by composers into Indigenous culture with some obvious breaches of protocol and some more ‘lite’ appropriations. In his music Sainsbury also expresses the spirit of our land, yet usually pertaining to the context of one place or region—the Central Coast of NSW—his long-term home and his aural homelands. Like other composers, he too looks to Indigenous culture in sensing belonging meaningfully, yet with a decided focus on the local Aboriginal culture of the Central Coast and neighbouring Sydney, a culture of which he is a part, and that is a part of him.
There are growing numbers of Indigenous composers in Australia. In the lecture Sainsbury will be discussing the above issues as well as the mechanism of the Indigenous Composer Initiative (ICI) that he founded, which involves major partners Moogahlin Performing Arts Redfern, the Australian Music Centre, APRA, the School of Music at ANU, Eora College Redfern, and jazz and ethnomusicology staff members at Sydney Conservatorium. It is a mechanism for supporting Indigenous composer development and careers, and it is now in its inaugural year. The lecture finishes with a recital of his Brackish Songs.