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Omega Ensemble Launches 2022 With William Barton Collaboration

February 10 @ 7:00 pm

Omega Ensemble’s 2022 Season launches with a world premiere collaboration, Two Breaths involving Australia’s leading didgeridoo virtuoso and award-winning composer, William Barton.

Two Breaths will feature Barton and Omega Ensemble in an arresting performance of Sculthorpe’s String Quartet No. 16 (scored for string quartet and didgeridoo), before the debut of a new work by Barton written for didgeridoo, clarinet and string quartet to commissioned to celebrate Omega Ensemble’s 2022 Season. Artistic Director David Rowden says the work has been developed through an exchange of musical techniques between Barton and himself. “William Barton is one of this country’s greatest musical voices and a fierce artistic collaborator,’ says Artistic Director and clarinetist, David Rowden. “On stage, William captivates audiences with his deeply moving and passionate performances. But behind the scenes, it’s his generous spirit when collaborating across musical traditions that makes his music so powerful.” The program opens with Mozart’s cherished Clarinet Quintet.

The Sydney based classical ensemble will also tour to Melbourne and Newcastle from 10 February.

William Barton had a lengthy musical partnership with the late composer Peter Sculthorpe which resulted in an oeuvre of work featuring the didgeridoo, including Sculthorpe’s acclaimed Requiem written for Barton and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. “The beautiful thing about music is that it is continually expanding your own form of expression,” explains Barton. “When you have a conversation musically with your instrument, or your voice, or with another artist or a symphony orchestra, it’s a matter of collaborating and expanding your palette of sound and experience. You keep on building upon the history of music-making and culture, while also maintaining a respect and humbleness for those traditions.”

“The didgeridoo and the clarinet share a musical bond, most obviously by the way sound is produced: from the breath inside a performer’s body,’ explains Rowden ‘This gives both instruments an expressive range and emotional control which is different from, say, the friction of a violin bow, or the strike of a piano’s hammer. In many ways, it’s much more akin to singing. While working together I’ve also had to adapt some of the classical techniques I’ve honed over my career in order to match the emotional rawness of William’s own playing.”

The program:W.A. Mozart – Clarinet Quintet, K. 581/ Peter Sculthorpe – String Quartet No. 16/ William Barton – New Commission [World Premiere]*
* Commissioned by Omega Ensemble

Melbourne – 15 February 2022, Melbourne Recital Centre/ Newcastle – 19 February 2022, Newcastle City Hall