Music is very oft en seen as a bridge between cultures, a means to cross boundaries of time and space, and offer a glimpse into a moment of fusion. But this is not what composer and musician Errki Veltheim has undertaken in his latest endeavour.
In fact, Tract, a unique musical performance with the Young Wagilak Group and Veltheim as improvising violinist, is deliberately not a fusion of culture and musical styles, but a performance of two separate and parallel musical performances that are inspired and informed by the Indigenous song cycles of the Wagilak Group.
“I thought this was a good way, ethically as much as musically, to present in the strongest way possible the beauty of the Wagilak Group without compromising the integrity of the work,” says Veltheim. Veltheim has worked extensively with the Arnhem Land musicians since 2005. Through a collaboration of the Wagilak Group and the Australian Art Orchestra, Tract provides a contemporary interpretation of ‘Wild Blackfella’; a song cycle which traces the journey of the ancestor through his country as he calls up and names things.
“I have been inspired to create a setting where, as a musical mediator, I could facilitate two very different musical cultures to enter the same space. I hope that by allowing both these very separate musical performances to co-exist we can offer audiences an opportunity to engage with the strengths of different musical cultures.”