Monday, May 10, 2021



Canberra International Music Festival

Fitters’ Workshop, May 8


Reviewed by Len Power


At the start of Concert 18, ‘Heartland’, we were invited to join William Barton and Véronique Serret on a walk with them through a timeless and vast landscape – the Heartland.  What a journey it was!

Mixing western music with ancient sounds of the land, the duo created a rich soundscape that was colourful, passionate, uplifting and intensely moving.

Performer and composer, William Barton, has won many awards for his musical works over the past two decades and is widely recognized as one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo players.  Playing the guitar as well as the didgeridoo and vocalising, he commanded the stage with his skill and talent.


Véronique Serret and William Barton

Véronique Serret has played with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for many years and was recently appointed Concertmaster of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra.  In this concert, she played violins and vocalised as well.

This combination of western and ancient instruments sounded as if they were always meant to be played together.  In addition, the use of modern day electronics to amplify and loop sounds added another dimension to the sound produced.  Both performers were fine singers and their sustained notes were clear and hauntingly beautiful.

The result was a fabulous combination of instruments and voice, of ancient sounds and classical and modern western music building a totally unique experience filled with emotion and a sense of land, time and space.

Sensitive poetic readings by the duo, interspersed through the music, explained the journey we were undertaking.  Describing the commonality of all walking together, the cleansing flow of sacred waters and fire, earth and rebirth, the wildlife and the stars, a strong picture was built up of the mother country – the Heartland.  “We are all as one”, intoned Véronique Serret as the all-embracing music wove its spell around us.

The standing ovation at the end of the concert was thoroughly deserved.  This was an extraordinary journey through music and sound and a powerful experience.


Photo by Peter Hislop


This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition of the 9 May 2021.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on the Artsound FM 92.7 ‘In the Foyer’ program on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3.30pm.