How did the commission for Four Lost Songscome about?

In late 2020, I worked with Jonathan Tooby(DSO’s Artistic Director and Chief Conductor) when the Darlington Quartet, for which he plays cello, performed my string quartet Bell Birds . In early 2021, we did some creative development work for a WA play called The Big Sea , for which I was writing music for string trio and soprano Emma Matthews. This culminated in Jon offering me the chance to write an orchestral song cycle for DSO. It’s a delightfully affirming way to be offered a gig.  

Emma Jayakumar

Can you tell us about the four Indigenous poets whose texts you use?

The poets are Maureen O’Keefe, Theresa Penangke Alice, Yvette Holt and Matthew Heffernan. They all have a familial or geographical connection to the Northern Territory as this commission was made in conjunction with the NT Writers’ Centre. Rita Horanyi, the Artistic Director of the NT Writers’ Festival, curated a selection of poems, and I chose...