Contours of Songlines

Featuring our 2019 Artist-in-Residence William Barton

Kalkadunga man and didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton is ‘an Australian giant in every sense of the word. A musician at the very top of his game, he’s broken more barriers and glass ceilings than you can count,’ wrote Clive Paget in Limelight magazine.

Barton grew up around music and began playing didgeridoo some two decades ago in his hometown of Mount Isa, Queensland, where he was taught by his uncle Arthur Peterson. Known to have practiced the didgeridoo for 12 hours a day in his formative years, William went on to make his orchestral debut as a soloist when he was just 17-years-old. He tells Limelight:

‘I wanted to be great at it, but not just 100% – I wanted to be 1000%. To take it beyond my imagination. The power of the instrument and the ability to communicate through a musical language soon became my world. To converse with people from my background, the Kalkadunga nation, but also the rest of the world.’

Widely celebrated as one of Australia’s greatest living artists, William’s performance in Elisabeth Murdoch Hall this July shines a light on the power of Indigenous storytelling and music, transforming the role of the digeridoo while preserving its cultural significance.

‘My passion is to create a journey for people through music, present to them a diversity of musical styles with the didgeridoo, and engage with audiences about the uniqueness of Australia. It has been a specific passion of mine to work closely with classical musicians and composers to develop and sustain music for the didgeridoo in this environment,’ says William.

The concert features his mother – opera singer, poet and Australian dreamtime opera diva, Aunty Delmae Barton – violinist Veronique Serret and pianist Paul Grabowsky. ‘In this concert I’ll be re-visiting songs I started writing when I was in my teens, celebrating organic growth through artistic fusion and showing how music can be a platform of expression that enriches our community,’ said William.

Referred to as ‘William the Conqueror’ by ABCTV’s popular Australian Story in which he also featured, William’s awards and accolades are many. His powerful musicianship and passion for Indigenous storytelling have seen him perform all over the world, working with many acclaimed orchestras, conductors and artists. His performance with the Berlin Philharmonic had a profound impact on British conductor Sir Simon Rattle, who said, ‘He’s one of the great virtuosos … It’s a sound I have heard before, but never with that sort of technique – the possibilities are extraordinary. This is a great man, he radiates.’


Thursday 18 July, 7.30pm
Elisabeth Murdoch Hall (One hour & 45-mins incl. interval)
William Barton didgeridoo/guitar/vocals
Aunty Delmae Barton vocals
Veronique Serret violin
Paul Grabowsky piano
Tickets $50 ($40 conc)
Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre
_Supported by The Vizard Foundation & Message Consultant_s

For more information and to book tickets click here.


Di Rolle
di@dirolle.com | 0419 001 068