It’s NAIDOC week in Australia. During this week 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. These are 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. These artists use this new medium to share their stories and culture. Today, we are going to look at one of these such artists, Eric Avery.
Eric Avery – Indigenous Multi-disciplinary artist
Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. Firstly, in his formal training, he trained in Dance as the NASIDA Dance Academy. Then, he had a mentorship at The Australian Ballet. Finally, to round out his formal training he studied a Bachelor of Music at the Australian Institute of Music. As a result, He combines his skills on the violin to perform classical music and create new contemporary music. For example, His compositions express his Koori (NSW Aboriginal) heritage. He also works with his family’s custodial songs, reviving them and continuing the age-old legacy of singing in his tribe.
Today, I want to showcase two of Avery’s compositions. Firstly, there is a work entitled Galinga (water song). Galinga is an incredibly emotive piece. It incorporates Avery’s native tongue with traditional violin playing and looping textures. The resulting piece creates a rich tapestry that evokes a babbling brook.
Finally, In Wirrangintungiyil, Avery performs with his father on Didgeridoo. In it, Avery utilises 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 for NAIDOC week that is well worth checking out.