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Legendary musician William Barton headlines Parramatta's epic symphony concert

David Prestipino -

Peerless yidaki performer and world-renowned composer William Barton will headline an epic Sydney Symphony Under the Stars lineup at Parramatta Park on Saturday.

The proud Kalkadunga man - a distinguished artist of extraordinary musicality and celebrated didgeridoo virtuoso - will transport audiences to another realm with a performance of Bush(fire) Requiem, co-composed with violinist and vocalist Veronique Serret and blending the poetry of his mother Aunty Delmae Barton, with all three performing together on stage.

The haunting and ethereal composition was inspired by the Australian landscape and melds the magic of Mr Barton's exquisite didgeridoo and guitar playing with themes of caring for country and national unity and the vocals of Ms Serret and Aunty Barton.

The Indigenous vibes will keep rolling after the trio's act when the Warumpi Band's Neil Murray performs the anthem he wrote for former bandmate George Rrurrambu Burarrwanga, My Island Home, the Australian classic Christine Anu famously performed at the Sydney 2000 Olympics closing ceremony.

Mr Barton, who was mentored by his uncle, learned the yidaki (didgeridoo) aged 17 and performed one of his earliest orchestral compositions with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

He has been honoured with several public and critical accolades, including being Queensland's recipient in the 2023 Australian of the Year awards, and recently became the newest member of Sydney Symphony Orchestra's board of directors, after a long association with its orchestra, which often collaborates with him in the studio and on his international tours.

In August, Mr Barton was honoured with two prestigious awards in two days: the Richard Gill Award for 'Distinguished Services to Australian Music' at the Art Music Awards, and the Global Sydney Award.

He said afterwards he knew from a young age he wanted to be a musician, gleaningn inspiration from unlikely sources.

"I grew up in the right time when I got my culture, the landscape and my people," Mr Barton said.

"But I also listened to AC/DC, Mahler, Vivaldi and all these things in between.

"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."

The multi-instrumentalist, composer, vocalist and producer has long pioneered a pathway for Indigenous artists internationally, through collaborations with the world's greatest ensembles, including the Berlin Philharmonic and London Philharmonic Orchestra, and breakthrough performances at Westminster Abbey and the Beijing Olympics.

Mr Barton, whose five albums capture his unique blend of western art and First Nations musical traditions, also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Griffith University and the University of Sydney.

Held as part of the Sydney Festival, Saturday's free summer concert is performed at Parramatta Park's beautiful amphitheatre at The Crescent for the 18th year running, with a soaring program to take audiences to another stratosphere.

Parramatta Park - situated alongside the Parramatta River - is a special place for First Nations people, and part of the traditional lands of the Burramattagal people.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra's concerts encompass masterpieces from the classical repertoire, music by some of the finest living composers, and collaborations with guest artists from all genres.

The range of guest artists for the 2024 event include British-Indian-American sitar player, film composer and activist Anoushka Shankar and will be guided by conductor Benjamin Northey and backed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Sydney Symphony Under the Stars: Pictures in the Sky is presented by Sydney Festival. The free event starts at 8pm.

Sydney Symphony Under the Stars : 2024 Program

ANOUSHKA SHANKAR arr. Buckley Between Us (Selections)

WILLIAM BARTON & VÉRONIQUE SERRET orch Bush(fire) Requiem

NEIL MURRAY & GEORGE BURARRWANGA, arr. Amy My Island Home

JOHN WILLIAMS ET Adventures on Earth

ELLA MACENS Release

JAMES HORNER Apollo 13: Main Title

STRAUSS Blue Danube

MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition: Baba Yaga & The Great Gate of Kiev

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