Innovative National Trust of Western Australia Heritage Festival program Sound from the Ground has been applauded at the prestigious Museums and Galleries National Awards, winning the Interpretation, Learning & Engagement category for 2017 last night in Brisbane.
National Trust of Western Australia CEO Julian Donaldson said the project inspired the creation of new music and powerful performance in the evocative setting of East Perth Cemeteries, the main burial grounds for the Swan River Colony from 1829 to the end of the 19th century.
“This award recognises the National Trust’s capacity to reach non-traditional audiences through its unique heritage places in unexpected ways, while creating opportunities for new artistic endeavours,” said Mr Donaldson.
“Composer Duncan Gardiner was commissioned by the National Trust to write an original composition as a contemporary response to the graves, while Classical Guitarist Dr Jonathan Fitzgerald and the Perth Guitar Quartet presented the world premiere of the original composition in addition to an international music repertoire,” he said.
The new composition titled Stone, Shell, Bone and Feather, an eight movement piece was performed on three conventional classical guitars with the fourth part on a contrabass (six string) classical guitar and was based on the material evidence observed in the unique landscape setting.
The piece begins with direct quotations of the hymns that were performed at funerals or music associated with mourning for each of the seven faith traditions represented in the Cemeteries.
“The moving range of music explored sorrow, hardship, pain and loss but also unexpected realms of courtship, passion, flirtation and love.”
“The sold out performances were held at St Bartholomew’s Church, a place of worship located amongst the burials representing over 10,000 separate and interconnected lives.”
“The project reflects impermanence and challenges notions of how a heritage collection may be explored and understood. It is part of the National Trust’s commitment to awaken the community to the value of heritage,” Mr Donaldson said.