INSIEME – YAPENEYEPUK – TOGETHER (Deborah Cheetham)

Portrait of Deborah Cheetham in front of a colourful tapestry

Despair and determination compete. The rare unison moment is celebrated. But still the question remains. What will it take to bring us together?

DEBORAH CHEETHAM AO
AUSTRALIAN COMPOSER

Deborah Cheetham AO, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Cheetham 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.’

In 2009, Cheetham established Short Black Opera as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers. The following year she produced the premiere of her first opera, Pecan Summer. This landmark work was Australia’s first Indigenous opera and has been a vehicle for the development of a new generation of Indigenous opera singers.

In 2015, Cheetham was inducted onto the Honour Roll of Women in Victoria and in April 2018 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia for her pioneering work and achievements in music.

In 2019, Cheetham established the One Day in January project designed to develop and nurture Indigenous orchestral musicians, launching Ensemble Dutala in 2021. She received the Sir Bernard Heinze Memorial Award for service to music in Australia and the Merlyn Myer Prize for Composition, the Melbourne Prize for Music, and, in 2019, was inducted onto the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll. 

Photo: Wayne Quilliam

PROGRAM NOTE

Deborah Cheetham AO
INSIEME–YAPENEYEPUK–TOGETHER (2019)
PLEXUS commission

Insieme – Italian, meaning together, in Yorta Yorta – Yapeneyepuk.

In this work there are dominant themes which give rise to competitive striving. We search for the common goal but are so often out of step.

We are swept into a way of being, which allows no time for the soul to breathe. Even as we draw near to one another, we struggle to find a state in which we might describe ourselves as together.

Despair and determination compete. The rare unison moment is celebrated. But still the question remains. What will it take to bring us together?

Commenced – Venice, Italy, September 24, 2019

Completed – Melbourne, Australia, November 3, 2019

© Deborah Cheetham

Related Articles

Skip to content