Sydney Opera House’s renovated concert hall reopens with new work

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A new work by First Nations composer and didgeridoo virtuoso William Barton will be the first piece of music to be heard when the newly renovated Sydney Opera House concert hall finally reopens next year.

The Barton play, which is part of the SSO 50 bands commissioned project, will be associated with Gustav Mahler’s monumental Second Symphony in a concert series in July that will also mark Simone Young’s debut as the orchestra’s conductor – the first woman to hold the post.

Simone Young: “There is a feeling of pure joy in concert halls and opera houses right now. “Credit:James brickwood

“William is a great songwriter, but so far he has mostly worked with small ensembles,” Young said. “He was a little shocked but absolutely delighted when I said, ‘You have the whole toolbox, mate – the orchestra, the choir, the soloists. Dark!'”

Barton’s work will include the sound of clapsticks made from wood salvaged from the opera floor before work begins.

“They will be quite sacred and will continue to be played with the spirit of every musician who has stepped onto this concert hall stage,” said Barton, who began work on the piece, which will evoke a sense of sacred landscape and the importance of language.
“I hope I make my people proud,” he added.

Young was speaking from Zurich, Switzerland, as SSO unveiled its 2022 season, the centerpiece of which will be the long-awaited return of the concert hall, which closed in February last year.

Mahler’s Second Symphony, which calls for a full choir and two female soloists, as well as a large orchestra is rightly known as The resurrection.

William Barton's new book will examine the importance of language to First Nations peoples.

William Barton’s new book will examine the importance of language to First Nations people.
Credit:Steven siewert

“I don’t think it’s very original to reopen with Mahler 2 but for me it’s more than just a coincidence of the title. that’s also it The resurrection symphony explores every corner of space musically and emotionally, ”said Young. “This is one of the greatest gatherings of musical forces you can imagine and it is a wonderful opportunity for the Sydney audience – and the orchestra – to explore all that the space has to offer.”


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