Ngarra-Burria (‘To Listen, To Sing’) is a program instigated by Dharug composer and teacher Christopher Sainsbury in 2016 to encourage and enable indigenous composers to ‘create notated compositions and industry connections’. The program, which won a Classical: Next Innovation Award in Germany in 2022, has seen numerous Indigenous composers work with Ensemble Offspring to create chamber music for performance and recording. Twelve composers are represented on this release, including Brenda Gifford, Nardi Simpson and Eric Avery, recipients of First Nations composer residencies with the Ensemble. The majority of the 16 compositions are for a quartet of flute, clarinet, vibraphone and cello, allowing for a wide range of moods to be expressed: Eric Avery’s Gliding floats on the interplay between flute and bass clarinet, with vibraphone and cello providing direction and momentum. In Nardi Simpson’s Burruguu (Time of Creation), a more solemn work, sustained notes in the cello provide the fertile ground out of which the flute creates tendrils of burgeoning life. Some compositions substitute violin and double bass for flute and cello: in Aaron Wyatt’s Cirrus, the contrast and space between violin and double bass suggests the skyscape glimpsed from the city below. Each composition offers much to discover and appreciate: you can hear some of them on New Horizons on Sunday 9 July at 9:30pm.
– Paul Cooke