Melbourne Symphony performs musical Acknowledgment of Country, led by Indigenous conductor Aaron Wyatt

Posted on: February 10, 2022

Composer Deborah Cheetham, violist and conductor Aaron Wyatt, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Photo: Nico Keenan

“When Aaron Wyatt picks up the conductor’s baton for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra tonight, he will … set the beat for a moment in history: what is believed to be the first time an Aboriginal man conducts an Australian state orchestra in a public performance,” writes Nick Miller in Wednesday’s (2/9) Age (Melbourne, Australia). “Wyatt will take the stage for Long Time Living Here, the live musical Acknowledgement of Country penned by another history-maker, MSO First Nations creative chair and composer Deborah Cheetham.… Says Wyatt, a Noongar man who grew up in Perth and two years ago joined Monash University’s school of music as a violist, conductor and assistant lecturer, … ‘[This] represents such a huge step forward, both for me as an individual and for Indigenous representation in Australian classical music.’ … Cheetham says the idea emerged from a conversation with MSO managing director Sophie Galaise and director of programming John Nolan, reflecting on a new partnership of mentorships and workshops between the MSO and Ensemble Dutala, Australia’s first ensemble for classically trained First Nations musicians…. [Cheetham] proposed that [Wyatt] conduct, she would sing, and Dutala members would play … for the Acknowledgement composed by Cheetham in 2019.”