William Barton: Square Circles Beneath the Red Desert Sand

Square Circles Beneath the Red Desert Sand


Commissioned as part of Quartet & Country, a commissioning project by the Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and its 2016-2019 Artistic Director, composer Iain Grandage, UKARIA and the Australian String Quartet.

Performed by the Australian String Quartet and William Barton
Dale Barltrop – Violin I
Francesca Hiew – Violin II
Stephen King – Viola
Sharon Grigoryan – Cello
William Barton – Didgeridoo & Vocals

Composed by William Barton
Recorded at UKARIA Cultural Centre, Mt Barker, South Australia – December 2017.
Stephen Snelleman – Producer
Russell Thomson – Engineer
Alex Stinson – Editing and Mastering
Kingsley Schmidtke – UKARIA Cultural Centre
Angelina Zucco – ASQ Chief Executive
Sophie Emery – ASQ Operations Manager

Artwork – Jim Tsinganos Illustration
Art Direction – Cul-de-Sac Creative

Special thanks to William Barton for his valued support of this release.


Square Circles Beneath The Red Desert Sand is part of my journey through music. It is about the spirits of my land, my country, Mt Isa – Kalkadunga country, coming through the music. Having the Australian String Quartet convey that through those little black dots on a piece of paper, they themselves have their own spirit that they bring to this piece, which is very important; collaboration is so important to a musician’s life.

The digeridoo, the yidaki, is one of the oldest instruments in the world. So too is the violin, the viola, and the cello. Through Square Circles we bring together the didgeridoo, one of the oldest instruments of Australia and perhaps the world, with classical western European instruments, and bring these two cultures together. These instruments, made from wood, from trees, have their own spirits within them; some of these instruments are upward of three hundred years old.

Every performance should be special, and have its own experience. The moments at the beginning of Square Circles Beneath the Red Desert Sand are improvised. When performing the piece, we’re telling a story that unfolds before us. That is my statement – channelled from mother earth and the song lines of Australia.

William Barton, March 2018


A composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, William Barton is widely recognised as one of Australia’s leading didgeridoo players and composers.

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.

His awards include Winner of Best Original Score for a Mainstage Production at the 2018 Sydney Theatre Awards, Winner of Best Classical Album for Kalkadungu, ARIA Awards 2012, and Nominee for Best World Music Album for Birdsong at Dusk, Aria Awards 2014.

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.

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