C15 Festival Finale – Mulanggari

  • Sunday, 5 May 2024

    6:30 pm

  • Snow Concert Hall

    Canberra Grammar School Campus, Red Hill, ACT

  • With Support From

The Festival and its mulanggari banner come to a close with a celebration of the oldest living culture on earth.

For more than twenty years, the Stiff Gins have sung in language about Indigenous culture and women’s empowerment. Now, in a unique Festival collaboration, Kaleena and Nardi join forces with the Dudok Quartet Amsterdam to perform the Gin’s tender songs like you’ve never heard them before – arranged by jazz legend Jonathan Zwartz. Three percussionists bring Holly Harrison’s new trio to life, while William Barton and Véronique Serret summon a final moment of magic alongside works by Nardi Simpson and Yuin composer Brenda Gifford.

As the curtain falls on Roland’s decade-long tenure at the helm of the Festival, some of his closest musical collaborators join forces to mark the end of an era and to set the tone for the future.


The Stiff Gins sing

Yandool (Wiradjuri)
Words & Music by K. Smith
Arranged by Jonathan Zwartz

Words & Music by Kaleena Smith
Arranged by Jonathan Zwartz

Fade Away
Words & Music by Kaleena Smith

Words & Music by Kaleena Smith
Arranged by Jonathan Zwartz

Bear & Bee
Words & Music by Nardi Simpson

Happy This
Words & Music by K. Smith & N. Simpson
Arranged by Jonathan Zwartz

Dust  (Wiradjuri & Yuwaalaraay)
Words & Music by N. Simpson & K. Smith

— interval —

Walimbaya (return)
Music by Brenda Gifford 2022 for Ben Ward as part of the Bundian Way
commissioned by CIMF

Creature Feature (WP)
Music for three percussionists by Holly Harrison 2023/24
commissioned by CIMF

Wadhu (skin)
Music by Brenda Gifford 2023
Merlyn Myer Music Commission

Burruguu (time of creation)
Music by Nardi Simpson 2021
Written for Ensemble Offspring as part of Ngarra Burria

Yarrager Mayraa
Words & Music by Nardi Simpson
Arranged by Jonathan Zwartz and Roland Peelman


Stiff Gins: Kaleena Briggs and Nardi Simpson
Kevin Hunt, piano
Dudok Quartet
Claire Edwardes, Niki Johnson, Veronica Bailey, percussion
William Barton and Véronique Serret
Freya Schack-Arnott, cello
Ben Ward, Double Bass
Jason Noble, clarinet
Lamorna Nightingale, flute
Ellery Quartet
Luminescence Chamber Singers
Roland Peelman, Director


This concert is supported by Margaret and John Saboisky

Holly Harrison’s work is commissioned by CIMF’s A Major Lift

Stiff Gins are supported by Pamela and Allan O’Neil
Claire Edwardes is supported by Elspeth and Graham Humphries
Niki Johnson is supported by Carolyn Philpot
Veronica Bailey is supported by Christine Goode
Luminescence Chamber Singers are supported by Peronelle and Jim Windeyer
Ellery String Quartet are supported by Peter Wise


ARTIST Learn more about the artist

Artist Roland Peelman AM, Artistic Director


His encyclopaedic understanding of performing and visual arts and his theatrical instinct place him in constant demand as a musician of flair and imagination.” – Antony Jeffrey, Many Faces of Inspiration.

At the helm of the Festival since 2015 is Artistic Director Roland Peelman, an acclaimed musician of great versatility who has established a reputation as one of Australia’s most innovative musical directors.

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Artist William Barton - composer, instrumentalist and vocalist


William Barton is Australia’s leading didgeridoo player as well as composer, instrumentalist and vocalist. William started learning the instrument from his first learnt the uncle, Arthur Peterson, an elder of the Wannyi, Lardil and Kalkadunga people and was working from an early age with traditional dance groups and fusion/rock jazz bands, orchestras, string quartets, and mixed ensembles. Throughout his diverse career he has forged a path in the classical musical world, from the London and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestras to historic events at Westminster Abbey for Commonwealth Day 2019, at Anzac Cove in Gallipoli and for the Beijing Olympics. 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 an ARIA for Birdsong At Dusk in 2012. In 2021 he was the recipient of the prestigious Don Banks Music Award from the Australia Council and in 2022 he was announced as Australian of the Year for Queensland for 2023. With his prodigious musicality and building on his Kalkadunga heritage, William has vastly expanded the horizons of the didgeridoo.

Artist Stiff Gins (Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs)


Stiff Gins – Indigenous artists Nardi Simpson and Kaleena Briggs. After two decades creating visual feasts for the stage, three acclaimed albums and earning a slew of awards, Stiff Gins are entering their most intriguing period of music-making yet. Stretching time with their unique blend of harmonies, stories and soul, let Stiff Gins transport you to a higher and deeper musical plane.

Stiff Gins are generously supported by Pam and Allan O’Neil

Artist Luminescence Chamber Singers


The unbound expressive potential of our original instrument: the human voice

Comprised of six professional singers, Luminescence Chamber Singers is a virtuosic vocal ensemble based on Ngunnawal and Ngambri country (Canberra, Australia). Performing music that spans Medieval chant and Renaissance polyphony as well as folk song, pop, and contemporary art music, Luminescence has rapidly emerged as one of Australia’s leading ensembles.

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Artist Claire Edwardes, percussion


In 2022 Claire Edwardes was awarded the 2022 Medal of the Order of Australia for her commitment to Australian music. She is Australia’s ‘sorceress of percussion’ (City News, Canberra) and the only Australian to win the ‘APRA Art Music Luminary Award’ four times, Claire leaps between her role as Ensemble Offspring’s Artistic Director (Australia’s new music ensemble and winners of the 2022 Classical Next Innovation Award with Ngarra-Burria) and concerto performances with Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House and Radio Chamber Orchestra at the Concertgebouw.

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Artist Kevin Hunt, piano


Kevin Hunt is a jazz pianist-composer active in the Sydney jazz scene since 1979. Kevin Hunt currently performs regularly with vocalist Emma Pask, pianist Simon Tedeschi and vocal duo Stiff Gins.

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Artist Dudok Quartet Amsterdam


Dudok Quartet Amsterdam is forging a reputation as one of the most creative and versatile quartets of its generation. With its ethos of “sharing the heart of music”, the quartet is committed to crafting unique and eclectic programmes in order to engage with its audiences in new and imaginative ways. In repertoire ranging from Ligeti, Shostakovich and Bacewicz through to Mendelssohn, Mozart and Beethoven, the Dudok Quartet constantly strives to forge new pathways and connections in music. Their intelligent approach and flair for programming also sees them regularly perform their own arrangements of pieces and they have so far produced arrangements of composers including Gesualdo, Desprez, Shostakovich, Brahms and Messiaen. The Quartet is also committed to commissioning new works and have collaborated with composers including Joey Roukens, Peter Vigh and Theo Loevendie . Future commissioning projects include a new piece from British-Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk.

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Artist Véronique Serret, violin


Véronique Serret is a highly versatile violinist, vocalist and composer, effortlessly bridging the divide between classical and contemporary art forms. In demand as a leader, chamber musician, mentor and collaborative artist, Véronique is known for her inclusive sound world, willingness to experiment across genres and her work on the six string violin. She is dedicated to the creation of new music and the exploration of sound through diverse collaborations.

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Artist Ellery String Quartet


The Ellery String Quartet are a dynamic group of young musicians, formed at the end of 2021 and based on Ngunnawal/Ngambri land (Canberra). They are based at the ANU School of Music and supported by the Wesley Scholars program. They aim to push the boundaries of a ‘classical string quartet’, performing a wide range of repertoire in diverse venues across Canberra. Highlights include an astronomy-themed concert in the Yale-Columbia dome at Mt. Stromlo in October 2022, performing Scandinavian folk songs at Canberra’s Floriade festival, and hosting programs of classical and contemporary music in venues ranging from Wesley Uniting Church to Gang Gang Cafe. They have collaborated with various notable artists including William Barton (10th Anniversary of the National Arborteum), John Schumann (“Do We Still Have Time For Henry Lawson” at Canberra Writers Festival) and Ronan Apcar and Lynden Bassett (“Apcar’s Holland” and “This is What We Have Today”). They especially enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with local Canberran composers and musicians.

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Artist Niki Johnson, percussionist-composer


Niki Johnson is a percussionist and composer-performer whose musical practice incorporates contemporary classical repertoire, improvisation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and performance art. She is a current PhD Candidate at Monash University, where her research explores percussionists’ collaborations with sculptors and designers, and the process of co-creating, and composing for new sculptural instruments. Her main research project is Shock Lines, a collaboration involving Niki as percussionist-composer, glass artist Caitlin Dubler, and sound designer Natasha Dubler. Niki also works with clarinettist and composer Solomon Frank in the experimental music and theatre duo Throat Pleats. This collaboration explores shifting animalistic power dynamics, balloons, hoses, and vacuum cleaners.

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