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WAO Playlist Curated by Dr Chris Stone

On the eve before our new Wesfarmers Arts commission Koolbardi wer Wardong takes flight, we are excited to present a playlist curated by Dr Chris Stone, the musical mastermind behind the Arrangement and Orchestration of this new work. 

Explore unique Australian sounds, discover how language and song are always intimately intertwined, and appreciate the pure, ecstatic joy of music.

You can experience the exquisite results of Chris's work for yourself by booking tickets now!


A foreword from Chris:

I still can’t believe how privileged I am to be working alongside Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse arranging and orchestrating their opera Koolbardi wer Wardong! The following is a selection of music that fed into how I approached this project, what I had in mind whilst arranging, and what I hope carries through to the audience. Boorda, Chris.  


From Paradise - Archie Roach

Archie Roach’s album Jamu Dreaming was my first exposure to stories and music from an Indigenous artist. I remember listening to the song ‘From Paradise’ being blasted through the house as my mother sang along. It took many years for me to fully understand the lyric "And they took her away from paradise". What I felt right from the start was the beauty, vibrancy and overpowering joy of the music. There was a big heart beating through the music! I recognised the same heart beating through Gina and Guy’s music the first time I heard them perform.    

Short Trip Home - Edgar Meyer

Double Bassist and composer Edgar Meyer has been a big inspiration for me as a performer, composer and artistic director. He is a serial collaborator, drawing together artists from disparate musical worlds, crafting gorgeous and fascinating compositions that draw out and celebrate the unique characteristics of each performer, slotting them together like a jigsaw puzzle. He can see and hear deep connections, while relishing the diversity that makes us all unique.

Olet maamme armahin Suomenmaa (O dearest Finland, thou art our land) - Pekka Kuusisto

As a young fiddle player approaching the classical music world, Pekka’s music showed me I could play folk music, and classical music, and improvise, and each would add to the other. His unique sound (you hear one note and you know who is playing) inspired me to find my own voice on my instrument and as a musician, and to remember that music is fun.

Heimförin - Ásgeir

Language and music have always been intimately intertwined. How language sounds, the musical response those sounds inspire, and the meaning behind the sounds is so much of what drives musical style. I fell in love with the sounds of this song long before I knew what the words meant, and once I found out, it didn’t really change how I felt about it. There is always more to hear, if you turn off your filters and give yourself the time and space to listen more deeply.

Hard Times - Gillian Welch   

Complexity can be so alluring, sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong reasons. It took a long time for Gillian Welch to teach me the perfection of simple music. Like playing Mozart, there is nothing to hide behind, and your message must be crystal clear. Simple music is the hardest to get right.    

Cantelowes - Toumani Diabaté   

The first time I heard Diabaté play live, I felt all sense of time drift away as my brain sunk into rhythms, musical structures and phrasing so alien to me. After the first few pieces, I sat back ready to soak in the rest of the concert. Diabaté rose, bowed and left the stage…the concert was over, and an hour and a half had passed. This music had warped time around me, teaching me how culturally conditioned we are to music, beauty and meaning.  

It Gets Funkier IV - Vulfpeck feat. Louis Cole

The only disappointment I felt whilst arranging and orchestrating Koolbardi wer Wardong was not being able to listen to funk music while I worked. Yes, I’m still trying to figure out what that means too! Each day I’d take an hour off around dusk and go for a walk up a gorgeous dirt track through farmland and bush near my house, listen to funk music and get fired up for a long night of composition. A little of it may have snuck into the opera!  

Someday - Jonathan Zwartz

I often think about Australian music, what that is, and what it sounds like, if the idea even means anything. I’ve wondered how my music can sound more Australian and hoped I’m helping to explore and create Australian sounds. Sometimes whilst I’m thinking these kinds of things, I’ll be listening to Jonathan Zwartz, and wondering if guitarist Steve Magnusson has similar thoughts.

Five Sheep, Four Goats - Danish String Quartet

Cross-over music often comes with a wince and a cringe: an attempt to shoehorn one style into another, applying a cheap veneer and calling it something new. Music can communicate so much, but it cuts both ways; it’s hard to hide the intention, or lack of it, behind the music. Getting the rhythm, phrasing and groove right is often the hardest part. When you do get it right, it’s magic.

Ocean Wide, Canyon Deep - Jacob Collier

I wanted my time working on Koolbardi wer Wardong to be as musical as possible. This might sound odd but typing thousands of notes into a music notation program can feel very unmusical. I was inspired by Collier’s approach to creating music and set myself up more as an improvising musician than a ‘composer’. Before starting a new movement, I’d take a long walk listening to draft recordings from Gina and Guy on repeat, and dream up sound worlds, textures, shapes and feelings, before quickly sketching in what I could remember on my return, then closing the gaps with improvisation.