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Strings attached: Julian Burnside commissions Tony Abbott inspired composition

Barrister and human rights advocate, Julian Burnside QC, has commissioned composer Lyle Chan to create a piece of music, “Wind Farm Music – dedicated to Tony Abbott” which will have its world premiere next week when the Seraphim Trio perform it at Melbourne’s State Library.

Burnside is an old hand at commissioning musicians, having paid for about “20 to 30” compositions in recent years, but he says this is the first time he’s asked a composer to respond to a particular brief.

“I said it had to be for a piano trio, it had to be between two and four minutes long, and it had to incorporate much-loved melodies from music of the Romantic period,” he told Daily Review.

“I like commisssioning music, but this is the first time it’s for making a political point. When Tony Abbott said ‘Wind farms are ugly’ — which implies that open cut mines are not — this was a small way of making a point.”

Composers have long used their music to make political points but it’s less common for music to be commissioned by a patron with a particular political point in mind.

“A couple of times music I’ve commissioned has made reference to refugees, but that was not through any input from me.”

Lyle Chan will hold the intellectual property to the “Wind Farm” music but Chan has made the score freely available to anyone to download, play and record. Burnside hopes that trios will play the piece and put it on YouTube so that it will be played (and heard) by as many people as possible around the world.

“Wind Farm Music dedicated to Tony Abbott” will be performed at 12.30 pm at the Cowen Gallery at the State Library of Victoria on Wednesday, August 19.

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