Custodians of the Sky
A new 45 minute work to inhabit the heavens and the earth, exploring our imagining of the universe through music, poetry and video.
The work focuses on astronomy from a uniquely Australian perspective: the constellations as Australians can see them, incorporating recordings from Australian stargazing sites. The work links a global audience through our shared connection to space and celestial bodies and references different cultural interpretations of space and the stars.
The text in Custodians of the Sky comes from living Australian writers. At the start and throughout the work are the writings of indigenous astronomer Bill Yidumduma Harney and Hugh Cairns from their book Dark Sparklers. Five poems emerge as songs in the following order; Stars by David Malouf, Skywatchers by Margaret Bradstock, Perspective Passes over Us by Renee Schipp, Moon by A. Frances Johnson, The Moon via telescope by Margaret Bradstock. There will be an electronic part of the music created using sounds recorded at Australian star gazing sites. The production will also include a video element newly created by acclaimed video artist Nieto to further bring the theme of astronomy into the work and offer a French perspective on the stars.
Michael Smallwood, tenor
Damien Pass, baryton
Alphonse Cemin, conductor
Commissioned by Le Balcon and the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac.