Brenda Gifford & Ensemble Offspring – Wadhu/Skin

Brenda Gifford

Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre and Brenda Gifford & Ensemble Offspring


Witness the world premiere of Wadhu/Skin, Brenda Gifford’s award-winning 2023 Merlyn Myer Music Commission.

Witness the world premiere of Brenda Gifford’s award-winning 2023 Merlyn Myer Music Commission piece, Wadhu/Skin, as it takes audiences on an immersive and thought-provoking journey through music, language, and storytelling. With a creative lineage spanning over 60,000 years, Gifford is an acclaimed composer whose music is culturally influenced by her beloved Yuin Country, the Australian environment, and its seasonal changes.

About the concert

Joined by the esteemed Ensemble Offspring, this collaboration presents an authentic and poignant performance as it delves into the intricate web of human connection. Composed for flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello, double bass, piano and percussion, Gifford’s vision comes to life in a dynamic and innovative concert experience. Wadhu/Skin invites listeners to explore and appreciate the depths of cultural heritage. Illuminating the interconnectedness of human experience.

This presentation will be the fifth Merlyn Myer Music Commission, an initiative established in memory of Dame Merlyn Myer to support female composers in Australia. This prestigious commission offers a unique opportunity for a selected composer to create and present the premiere performance of a new musical work.

The 2023 Merlyn Myer Commission was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Aranday Foundation and the Yulgilbar Foundation.

Caring for Our Community

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Artists & Program


Brenda Gifford narrator
Lamorna Nightingale flute
Jason Noble clarinet
Claire Edwardes artistic director, percussion
Benjamin Kopp piano
Alexandra Osborne violin
Freya Schack-Arnott cello
Ben Ward double bass


Brenda Gifford

Ross Edwards
Laikan movt. III

Christopher Sainsbury
Mud Moon

Brenda Gifford

Ross Edwards
Marimba Dancers movt III

Brenda Gifford
Wadhu (Skin) – World premiere


‘Yuin woman Brenda Gifford’s heartfelt work “Dissipate” adds depth and meaning to the overall program, resulting in a strikingly successful musical fusion that will leave audiences in awe.’

‘Gifford played saxophone with her empathetic ensemble, but her main role was as composer and cultural guide, ushering the musicians and the audience deep into her country. The suite vividly evoked the majesty, the whistling calls, the sonic vibrations and spectacular breaching of whales. But it also evoked so much more: a palpable sense of connection to earth, sea and sky, and the honouring of ancestral traditions – conveyed with quiet intensity by the yidaki (didgeridoo), clapsticks and whispered Dhurga narration of Gifford’s nephew, Joe Brown McLeod.’ – The Age

‘Djiribawal is a roller-coaster of sonority and musical images, the large canvas work beautifully paced and composed, representing the elements in all their brutality and beauty and played exceptionally well by talented musicians.’ – Arts Hub

‘The power of nature and the power of music were inextricably linked, tapping into something both primal and inexpressibly profound.’ – The Age

‘Engaging varied and multigenerational audiences is unprecedentedly difficult, but Ensemble Offspring rise to the occasion.’ – Tempo

‘At times the concert was lyrical and reflective, at others sharp, spiky, bouncy and emphatic with staccato emphasis. Sometimes it rippled, bubbled and cascaded, at others it was haunting and quivering. Close attention was always paid to the structure of the music, which at times was a breathless group discussion, at others interweaving, spiky, atmospheric and incisive.’
Sydney Arts Guide