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6 July 2005

A range of musicians, from classical to country, will speak about how desert landscapes have inspired composers, lyricists and performers during a free forum at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on Sunday.

The Singing the Desert forum is the final in a series linked to the exhibition Extremes: Survival in the Great Deserts of the Southern Hemisphere. It has involved artists, writers, adventurers - and now musicians - discussing the seductive effects of deserts.

The forum, which ends the Museum's celebration of NAIDOC Week, features:

  • Composer Andrew Schultz, whose symphonic cantata Journey to Horseshoe Bend is drawn from the autobiography of Ted Strehlow, collector of Australian indigenous culture.
  • Librettist Gordon K Williams, who wrote the lyrics for Journey to Horseshoe Bend.
  • Singer-songwriter Shane Howard, of the legendary band Goanna, whose influential anthem Solid Rock tackled the subject of Aboriginal rights in Australia.
  • Popular central Australian country music singer Warren H Williams, who wrote Raining on the Rock with John Williamson.

The musicians will join ABC Classic FM presenter and composer Vincent Plush in talking about how the desert has affected their work. Vincent Plush curated a recent Brisbane symposium on musical encounters between white and indigenous musicians over 200 years.

Warren H Williams and Shane Howard will perform during the forum, and Andrew Schultz will play excerpts from Journey to Horseshoe Bend.

Singing the Desert takes place in the National Museum's Studio on Sunday, 10 July, from 2 to 3.45pm.

Warren H Williams will also perform from 12.30 to 1.15pm in the Hall of the Museum.

Extremes is an archaeological adventure through Australia, South America and Africa, tracing ancient rock art and desert lives shaped by dramatic environmental and social change. Extremes continues at the National Museum until 21 August.

For interviews or images please contact Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or Leanda Coleman on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or email

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