Eumeralla, a Journey to Understanding

30 September 2019

The University of Queensland's School of Music is delighted to welcome distinguished composer, soprano and Yorta Yorta woman Deborah Cheetham AO as the 2019 Kinnane Scholar in Residence.

Thanks to a generous bequest from the late Paula and Tony Kinnane, Ms Cheetham will discuss the role of music in preserving Indigenous languages at the third annual Kinnane Lecture on Tuesday, 15 October 2019.

Being the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages, this profoundly important topic is fitting for this year’s lecture and will be addressed by Ms Cheetham through the example of her major new choral work, Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace.

Composed for symphony orchestra, massed choir and soloists; Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace is sung entirely in the ancient dialects of the Gunditjmara people, amplifying the importance of Australia’s shared history.

Ms Cheetham said the revival of our traditional languages is critical to the ongoing journey of understanding our nation's identity and Eumeralla marks a significant step in Australia’s journey of reconciliation.

Eumeralla powerfully responds to the story of conflict and loss associated with one of the most significant resistance wars fought on this continent between the traditional owners and new arrivals,” she said.

“I was inspired to compose a work designed for non-Indigenous Australians to sing alongside their Indigenous brothers and sisters to commemorate this brutal conflict and speak on behalf of those who fell on both sides.”

Honoured to be this year’s Kinnane Scholar, Ms Cheetham said she hopes her presentation will serve to amplify the importance of our nation's shared history.

“Thanks to the generous bequest from Paula and Tony, UQ’s art and music students - particularly those from regional areas – will have access to fascinating opportunities,” Ms Cheetham said.

Following the lecture, Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace will be performed at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, 20 October 2019, as part of the UQ Vice Chancellor’s Concert Series.  

As this year’s Kinnane Scholar in Residence, Ms Cheetham will be working intensively with UQ students through rehearsals and workshops, as well as engaging with the UQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student and staff community.

School of Music Head, Professor Liam Viney has already seen the profound impact of Eumeralla on UQ students who have been rehearsing the work for some weeks in preparation for the October 20 performance.

“It’s very special for us as a community that Eumeralla is now coming to Queensland and a University context, where the work’s significance can be part of a larger conversation through events such as the Kinnane Lecture,” he said.

“Music has a special ability to communicate the full emotional significance of those resistance wars.

“Reading about and knowing the history is just the beginning; Eumeralla combines music, text and artwork in a way that allows an audience to access an entirely deeper level of meaning and insight into the human toll of those conflicts.”

Ms Cheetham has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. She was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance.

This year's Kinnane Annual Lecture will be held on Tuesday 15 October.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please
click here.