The singer, songwriter and poet Delmae Barton would sing to her infant son William, rocking him to sleep. Today, the master didgeridoo player recalls her sound: “Her operatic voice sings and calms the earth, that’s what I remember.”
His reassuring experience is both personal and universal. “We all have an internal lullaby that’s being sung to us,” he says.
William Barton. Photograph © Keith Saunders
William Barton’s first full-length solo orchestral commission, Apii Thatini Mu Murtu , which translates as “To sing and carry a coolamon on country together”, is a lullaby for which he will play didgeridoo, guitar and sing in his Kalkadunga tongue. It premieres with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra later this month.
Living with his partner and sometime collaborator, violinist Véronique Serret, in Sydney’s Paddington, Barton hasn’t been able to get to his Country around Mount Isa in Queensland, where his father, Alfred, is buried, since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but that Country has also inspired the lullaby.
Barton has continued to be a prolific composer and performer through this uncertain period, strong in the assurance that his dad and late uncle,...