Commissioned by Maggie Gray and Roger Allan, philanthropists whose Indigenous Capital Enterprise works to support the needs of indigenous people in Australia's community, Kalkadungu was co-written by Matthew Hindson and William Barton and premiered to great acclaim in 2008.
The score is based on an Aboriginal chant Barton wrote when he was 15. Scored for solo electric guitar, voice and didjeridu, the work's programme is based around the Kalkadungu's fierce guerilla campaign conducted against European settlers for 15 years. The tribe was decimated in battle by the combined troopers of Queensland in 1889 at Battle Mountain, near Mount Isa.
With Barton as soloist for all performances, the work was performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on 18 February at the Sidney Meyer Music Bowl (conducted by Benjamin Northey). Melbourne Town Hall hosts a National Reconciliation Concert on 25 May (Monash Academy with Fabien Russell) and on 27 and 28 May the Sydney Opera House sees two performances by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson.
‘…The most compelling few minutes of indigenous - inspired fast music to come from any white Austraslian…'
The Sydney Morning Herald (Graeme Skinner), 7 April 2007
‘Kalkadungu…marks a new development. They have succeeded in combining two musical tradition into a unified work of art.
The stomping rhythms and dissonance in the two sections called “Warrior Song” created an atmosphere of unrelenting violence and confrontation. By contrast, the finale’s vibrant colours and melodic impulses evoke a distinctly Australian sound world…
Kalkadungu won the audience and was given and standing ovation…Kalkadungu opens new opportunities for Australian music.’
The Australian (Murray Black), 4 April 2008