It’s NAIDOC week in Australia, where we celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture as a vital and important part of Australian culture. There is a strong culture of music in Aboriginal culture – in their beliefs they talk about songlines – the paths across the sky and sometimes the land that mark the route followed by creator-beings during the Dreaming. As such, it is unsurprising that there is a group of musicians who are breaching the gap between traditional Aboriginal music and Western Art Music, and using this new medium to share their stories and culture.
Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. Formally trained in Dance (NAISDA Dance college and a mentorship at The Australian Ballet) and Music (Bachelor of Music from the Australian Institute of Music), he combines his skills on the violin to perform classical music and create new contemporary music that expresses his Koori (NSW Aboriginal) heritage. He works with his family’s custodial songs, reviving them and continuing the age old legacy of singing in his tribe.
Galinga (water song) is an incredibly emotive piece that incorporates Avery’s native tongue with traditional violin playing and looping textures to create a rich tapestry that evokes a babbling brook.
In Wirrangintungiyil, Avery performs with his father on Didgeridoo, utilising a healing lullaby that he learned from recordings of the King Family. Avery talks about how utilising native languages has been transformative and healing for him in reclaiming his culture.
ABC Classic FM has a fantastic page highlighting a number of stories and performances around Indigenous performers and composers that is well worth checking out.