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The First 50 Podcast — Episode 2: William Barton

Wednesday, 01 March 2023
38 min listen
1 12 2023 Libby O Donovan William Barton 50th Anniversary Podcast Recording Festival Theatre Photo Credit Cassie Ackerman 2

In Episode 2 of The First 50 Podcast, hear didgeridoo virtuoso and acclaimed composer William Barton chat to host Libby O’Donovan about his inspiring career as a First Nations artist and his connection to Adelaide Festival Centre.

Hear the 2023 Queensland Australian of the year talk about his story, his career, and his most memorable musical moments. Listen now on major streaming platforms — including Spotify, Apple and Soundcloud.

I love the big spaces, you know, a space of connection with a lot of people. But also, on the flipside of that – it is about the intimacy in the smaller rooms here and engaging with people who just want a bit more of a chill time and not be amongst hundreds of other people. And so, on that level, you get to tell your story in a different way.

All the spaces within Adelaide Festival Centre have their own vibe. I think if you look at it like a song line of maps where each sort of room and space has its own spirit.

— William Barton

About The First 50 Podcast

Hosted by the powerful and sassy Libby O’Donovan, The First 50 podcast series will provide 12 snapshot moments that cover the Centre’s 50-year history. Hear stories, anecdotes and memories by those who have had their lives touched by the theatre: performers, artistic directors, ushers, and Walk of Fame-ers. 

The 12 episodes within the series will be published monthly across 2023. Be sure to follow for monthly drops. 

William Barton

For two decades, William Barton has forged a peerless profile as a performer and composer in the classical musical world, from the Philharmonic Orchestras of London and Berlin to historic events at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day 2019, Anzac Cove and the Beijing Olympics.

Performer and composer, William Barton is a contemporary instrumentalist and improviser of extended technique of the didgeridoo. William has been playing didgeridoo for over 20 years where he first started to learn the instrument in Mount Isa, far north-western Queensland.

During this time, William has worked extensively with traditional dance groups and fusion, rock and jazz bands, orchestras, string quartets and mixed ensembles and has toured internationally since the age of 15 years old. In 2012, William’s Kalkadungu recording received an ARIA award for Best Classical Album.

His awards include Winner of Best Original Score for a Mainstage Production at the 2018 Sydney Theatre Awards and Winner of Best Classical Album with ARIA for Birdsong At Dusk in 2012. With his prodigious musicality and the quiet conviction of his Kalkadunga heritage, he has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo—and the culture and landscape that it represents.

Libby O’Donovan 

Libby O’Donovan is a “powerful and sassy performer” (Sydney Morning Herald), renowned for her nuanced interpretations and extraordinary voice. She is a critically acclaimed jazz and cabaret performer and an award-winning Musical Director. Libby has entertained audiences the world-over with her unique talents, performing in New York, Tokyo and Toronto as well as Australia-wide. Equally at home in small ensemble acts as well as solo performances, she has been a proud member of ARIA nominated Coco’s Lunch, Flat on Your Bacharach, and Women With Standards, for which she won a Green Room Award for Musical Direction. 

Highly regarded as a solo artist, Libby has performed seasons for the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Edinburgh Fringe, Sydney Spring Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, the International Jazz Educators Convention, Adelaide Cabaret Festival (including working with Broadway composers Jason Robert-Brown and Andrew Lippa), Melbourne Fringe, Adelaide Fringe, Feast Festival, and the Wangaratta Jazz Festival. 

Her theatre credits include Matthew Robinson’s Metro Street, Doppio Parallelo’s DJ Squat, Contaminations Lab and The Last Child, Vitalstatistix’s Way Dead Cool and Patch Theatre Company’s Sharon Keep Ya Hair On! Libby’s recent body of work in Cabaret includes The Story of Meredith Crocksley, Some of My Best Friends Are Single, Gady La La: Songs for the Sophisticated Fag Hag, Kate Leigh: The Worst Woman, UNSUNG and The Cowgirl and The Showgirl. 

As a recording artist she has featured on numerous Jazz and Cabaret albums, as well as her critically acclaimed self-penned albums The Complication, Home to You and Back to Broken Hill

Libby is also highly in demand as a composer, arranger and musical director. 

Libby was the recipient of Adelaide Cabaret Festival’s Icon Award in 2022. 

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