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1. When I Walked into My Mother (1998) 15:01

by Moya Henderson

When I Walked into My Mother is my personal response to reading the testimonies of so many Aboriginal women and men who were taken away from their families and country as babies or small children. These accounts are collected in the book, Bringing Them Home: National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. This book was published by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. The publication place and date is Sydney, April 1997. Very quickly, the book became known as the book about the Stolen Generations.

The text which I use for this production is found on page 156 of Bringing Them Home. It is the testimony of someone identified only as “Confidential evidence 139 (Victoria).” I have jumped to the conclusion that this particular witness to the Commission is male, because in another short extract from this same testimony (139) we read, “I got told my Aboriginality when I got whipped and they’d say, you Abo, you nigger . . .” (p.157). Should I be so incredulous that this treatment could have been meted out to a girl-child? Probably not. “139’s” testimony is all about the one and only time he met his mother when he was fourteen. Words like brutal harshness, imprisonment, enslavement, callous lying, and traumatic, cultural deprivation are not to be found in “139’s” poignant and poetic description of a son’s only encounter (that he can recall) with his mother. But they are the terrible realities that screech at us all from behind the silencing and self-protecting barriers of those State and religious institutions which executed White Society’s cruellest wishes towards these children, and indeed a whole indigenous people.

The idea of a child walking into his mother (“139’s” own expression to describe the occasion), was powerfully evocative for me. It suggested a space, a sacred space: that vast territory, country, land which is ‘THE MOTHER.’ And in this sad instance that all-nurturing space had been meanly denied to this little boy.

There are plenty of factual accounts in Bringing them Home which rend the heart. There is one statement which you almost have to be on the look-out for, so matter-of-factly made is it–it refers to the mothers of the stolen children. The book recounts that not one mother of a stolen child could be found who could come forward to give testimony. Not a single mother could be found. They were either dead, or destroyed by guilt and shame, because they had been written off as unworthy and unable to take care of their children. Not one mother could be found.

The music for this work is taken from a piano solo I wrote back in 1984 called Cross Hatching. It is arranged for violin (Kirsten Williams), cello (Susan Blake) and piano (Stephanie McCallum). Kevin Smith took the part of “Confidential evidence139.” Impossible to imagine a more powerful reading than the one Kevin gave. Pamela Young provided the gentle commentary, as well as the loving voice of the mother.

–Moya Henderson, September 1998

Moya Henderson is an Australian composer whose work is motivated by a concern with society’s myths and cultures. She has made a number of imaginative and striking works especially for the radio medium, and these have been broadcast in Germany and in The “Listening Room” on ABC Classic FM.

2. 4 Images (1990) 6:51

by Jean-François Denis

“I came to the conclusion that to do a piece about Sound Ecology would be to offer a moment of silence. (We already produce so much sound that contributing more would be un-ecological …). Since silence is somewhat un-radiophonic, I decided to do the next best thing I could which was to simply record some sound images and to bring them back and present them here in the air. This is the most beautiful thing I could do.”

From the “Capsules radio écologie” (Radio Ecology Capsules) Series commissioned for “Musique Actuelle,” Radio-Canada FM, Montréal (Hélène Provost, producer).

Jean-François Denis is an electroacoustic composer turned CD-producer (empreintes DIGITALes) and concert co-producer (Réseaux /Rien à voir).

3. Arturo (1998) 13:44

by Elainie Lillios

Arturo was written based on an interview with a tarot card reader living in Denton, Texas. Aurturo requests visitors to “… please let me answer the questions before you ask them,” and claims that most times, he does. After years of palmestry and tarot readings, Arturo has interacted with many people and has learned many life lessons. This piece reflects some of his views on life and the casting of cards to reveal future possibilities.

Elainie Lillios, active instructor, composer, and promoter of electroacoustic music, is Assistant Professor of Composition and Coordinator of Music Technology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

4. Close in Distant Cold Light (2001) 29:39

by David Berezan

I am a Canadian living and working on my Ph.D. in music composition in Birmingham, England. Composing here from a distant vantage point on the north, I created a piece that looks at the Canadian north from very distant non-northerner perspectives.

Close and Distant Light explores the perceptions and imaginings of northern regions of Canada as told by persons geographically or culturally distant from ‘north.’ I was inspired by Glen Gould’s Idea of North but also decided to confront ‘north’ by creating a deeply introspective composition. The piece takes a look at ‘north’ through narrative material derived from a series of interviews with a diverse group of people, and an ‘inner’ look through sonic and subconscious exploration–turning an ‘aural microscope’ on themes such as frozen states, rapid change, the aurora borealis, expanse, and harshness–to give voice to my own preoccupations with ‘north.’ The majority of the abstracted sound material was derived from the voices of my interviewees. Framed around this, the trains of Gould’s journey north and inwards, the northern sound/landscapes of Sibelius, and a de/reconstructed poetic vision of ‘north’ make fleeting appearances.

This work was realised in the electroacoustic music studios at the University of Birmingham, U.K. Many thanks to Anna, Antti, David, Hector, Jivko, Kathleen, and Michael for participating in the interviews. Their words are the fundamental basis of this piece and their imagination provoked my own wondering about ‘north.’

David Berezan is a Calgary composer that has written music for mixed chamber ensembles, solo instruments, and digital media. He has a particular interest in the electroacoustic genre of acousmatic music, or, “cinema for the ear.”

Artwork: Prashant Miranda