Awards flow for William Barton, the composer inspired by AC/DC and Vivaldi

Composer and didgeridoo player William Barton is notching up major awards.

Composer and didgeridoo player William Barton is notching up major awards. Photo: AAP

Didgeridoo player and composer William Barton knew from a young age he wanted to be a musician.

“I grew up in the right time when I got my culture, the landscape and my people but I also listened to AC/DC, Mahler, Vivaldi and all these things in between,” he told AAP.

“It helped me realise at a young age that I wanted to be really great at what I wanted to do and I wanted to be somewhat humble along the way.”

Barton has been honoured with two prestigious awards in two days: the Richard Gill Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, which he accepted on Tuesday at the Art Music Awards, and the Global Sydney Award, announced on Wednesday.

Richard Gill was a composer and conductor who premiered Kalkadungu, written by Barton and Matthew Hindson, with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Kalkadungu is about the battle that my ancestors had against the first European settlers around Mount Isa,” Barton said.

“Richard was a part of that journey helping tell that story and since then, as with all music that’s been created, it should be played again sometimes.

“I’ve been very fortunate that it’s one of the pieces that I’ve travelled overseas and I’ve performed it in New York’s Carnegie Hall, last year in Italy, with the Tuscany Philarmonic Orchestra and in Parma, and also in Russia.”

It’s Barton’s global contribution that led to the Sydney Award.

“When I’m overseas I think of Australia as a global community and one of my homes being Sydney and so it’s always about those pathways of connection,” he said.

“I feel like I’m a part of an engine room of change, where more and more people are becoming in tune with how important the arts is and language to each landscape.”


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