CIMF / What a journey to the Heartland!

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Didgeridoo, voice and guitar artist William Barton and his partner, the virtuosic violinist Veronique Serret. Photo: Anthony Browell.

Canberra International Music Festival / Concert 18, “Heartland”, William Barton and Véronique Serret. At the Fitters’ Workshop, May 8. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

AT the start of the concert we were invited to join William Barton and Véronique Serret on a walk with them through a timeless and vast landscape – the Heartland. What a journey it was!

Mixing western music with ancient sounds of the land, the duo created a rich soundscape that was colourful, passionate, uplifting and intensely moving.

Performer and composer William Barton has won many awards for his musical works over the past two decades and is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo players. Playing the guitar as well as the didgeridoo and vocalising, he commanded the stage with his skill and talent.

Véronique Serret has played with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for many years and was recently appointed concertmaster of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. In this concert, she played violins and vocalised as well.

This combination of western and ancient instruments sounded as if they were always meant to be played together. In addition, the use of modern-day electronics to amplify and loop sounds added another dimension to the performance. 

Both performers were fine singers and their sustained notes were clear and hauntingly beautiful.

The result was a fabulous combination of instruments and voice, of ancient sounds and classical and modern western music building a totally unique experience filled with emotion and a sense of land, time and space.

Sensitive poetic readings by the duo, interspersed through the music, explained the journey we were undertaking. 

Describing the commonality of all walking together, the cleansing flow of sacred waters and fire, earth and rebirth, the wildlife and the stars, a strong picture was built up of the mother country – the Heartland. 

“We are all as one”, intoned Véronique Serret as the all-embracing music wove its spell around us.

The standing ovation at the end was thoroughly deserved. This was an extraordinary journey through music and sound, and a powerful experience.

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