Kevin Hunt’s PhD research at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music investigates the unique resonance of the Stuart & Sons piano. Compositions greatly influenced by indigenous themes of NSW have been produced to enhance the Australian and 21st century characteristics of the Stuart piano sound.
Last week, Kevin travelled to the Menindee Central School in the far west of NSW, to work with the music and art students. The art students painted panels for the Stuart piano while the music students participated in composition of the ‘Painted Piano Blues’, sung at the school assembly by the whole school.
With the guidance and ideas of principal Brian Debus, art teacher Rick Ball, and music teacher Helen Bub–‐Connor, the Menindee students created exceptionally beautiful artwork for the piano. Menindee’s indigenous students belong to the Paakantji and Ngiyampaa language groups. The Paakantji language is taught at the School by Kayleen Kerwin and Robert Lindsay as part of the school’s curriculum.
Paakantji elder Kayleen Kirwin says,
‘The art works are giving them a connection back to country.‘
Artist Rick Ball is especially gifted at guiding the students. He believes education is about revealing to the student the gift they already have, in this case a tradition that has been in place in their families and in their land for many thousands of years.
Rick Ball says,
‘I believe education is about their nervous system, gifted by all their ancestors. I encourage students of all ages to explore what they CAN do, and to ignore what they can’t, as that is someone else’s business. What they can do with this gift has drawn extraordinary responses from Sydney’s established art community, and overseas.’
The Painted Piano will feature at the ‘Our Music’ event, Saturday 13th December 2014 , at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, all are welcome.
This will be a day featuring presentations and performances by indigenous performers of NSW, including the artists and musicians of the Menindee Central School. The subtitle given to the day is ‘Performing Place, Listening to Sydney’
Bennelong and Yemmerawanne’s historic chant Burra–‐Bulla, sung in 1793 in London, will be featured at the ‘Our Music’ event. This transcript was rediscovered by historian Keith Vincent Smith at the British Library in 2011.