C5 Red Dirt Hymns

  • Thursday, 2 May 2024

    8:00 pm

  • National Museum of Australia

    Lawson Cres, Acton ACT 2601

  • With Support From

Presented in partnership with the National Museum of Australia

A hymnal to the country under our feet.

In a CIMF exclusive, the world premiere of Andrew Ford’s Red Dirt Hymns resounds in the great cathedral of Australian stories: the National Museum of Australia. A living songbook more than four years in the making, Andrew Ford’s hymnal brings together the words of sixteen contemporary Australian writers – poets, essayists and folksingers – in songs of praise, awe, grief, hope, joy, and natural splendour, dedicated not to a god, but to the land.

The ever-daring voices of Luminescence Chamber Singers join forces with two rising stars: Hilary Geddes, 2021 Freedman Jazz Fellow and lead guitarist of Triple J favourites The Buoys, and category-defying cellist Freya Schack-Arnott. Red Dirt Hymns unfolds to the evocative imagery of Sammy Hawker, whose art is created within the fabric of country itself: saltwater, limestone and eucalypt.

From Ellen van Neerven’s dark clouds to John Kinsella’s abundant gardens, Red Dirt Hymns does what a hymnal is meant to do: it draws us closer – to each other, and to the light and shade of our wide brown land.

“Everyone’s red dirt under the clouds.” – Philip Harvey

Great Southern Land gallery – Life (credit National Museum of Australia)

Audience members are invited to discover the story of the vast, vibrant Australian continent in the Great Southern Land gallery at the National Museum of Australia between 6.30pm and the start of the performance which begins at 8pm. Great Southern Land tells stories of power, connection, life and change. It shows how the Australian continent has transformed into one of the most diverse and resilient places on Earth – and how these changes can guide us in the future.


Andrew Ford, Red Dirt Hymns


Luminescence Chamber Singers
With Freya Schack-Arnott, cello and Hilary Geddes, guitar
Images by Sammy Hawker

This concert is supported by Peronelle and Jim Windeyer
Luminescence Chamber Singers are supported by Peronelle and Jim Windeyer

ARTIST Learn more about the artist

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.

Go to Artist's Page

Artist Hilary Geddes, guitar


Hilary Geddes is a guitarist, improviser and composer based in Eora/Sydney on Gadigal Land.She is the 2021 Freedman Jazz Fellow, a 2021 ABC Jazz Scholarship recipient, and the 2019 recipient of the Jann Rutherford Memorial Award. Hilary is the bandleader of the Hilary Geddes Quartet,and released her debut album ‘Parkside’ (ABC Jazz) with the band in 2021.Hilary works as an in-demand guitarist in the Australian jazz and improvised music scenes, performing alongside jazz luminaries such as Mike Nock, Lakecia Benjamin (USA), Jonathan Zwartz and Laurence Pike. She holds the guitar chair in the large ensemble Pharos, is a member of Ellen Kirkwood’s Underwards, and Jeremy Rose’s Earshift Orchestra for the project ‘Disruption! The Voice of Drums’, which won an APRA Art Music Award in 2022.

Photo credit – April Josie Photography

Artist Andrew Ford, composer - writer - broadcaster


Andrew Ford OAM is a composer, writer and broadcaster who has won awards in each of those capacities, including the Paul Lowin Prize for his song cycle Learning to Howl, a Green Room Award for his opera Rembrandt’s Wife and the Albert H. Maggs Prize for his large ensemble piece, Rauha. He has been composer-in-residence for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. In 2014 he was Poynter Fellow and visiting composer at Yale University, in 2015 visiting lecturer at the Shanghai Conservatory, and in 2018 HC Coombs Creative Arts Fellow at the Australian National University. Ford has written widely on all manner of music and published ten books, most recently The Song Remains the Same with Anni Heino (La Trobe University Press, 2019). He has written, presented and co-produced five radio series for the ABC and, since 1995, presented The Music Show each weekend on Radio National. He was awarded an OAM in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Photo: Jim Rolon

Artist Freya Schack-Arnott, cello


Freya Schack-Arnott (DK/AUS) is a contemporary cellist and nyckelharpist who enjoys a multi-faceted career as a performer, improviser, composer and curator; ranging from contemporary classical repertoire to experimental, electronics, folk and popular art forms.

Schack-Arnott regularly performs with Australia’s leading new music ensembles, including ELISION Ensemble and Ensemble Offspring.

As an improviser and composer, Schack-Arnott’s current projects include: ‘FSA/BW’ (experimental string duo with bassist Benjamin Ward), ’Runa Cara’ (Scando/Irish folk duo with Bonnie Stewart/aka Bonniesongs),‘Cloud Maker’(cross-cultural collaboration with 4 female musicians). 

Freya is also co-founder and curator of the regular ‘Opus Now’ music series, an ongoing project exploring relationships between the music of today and classical chamber-works.