Stories » Australian composer Harry Sdraulig pens a song of comfort and hope for Kathryn Stott and Yo-Yo Ma / LIMELIGHT

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Australian composer Harry Sdraulig pens a song of comfort and hope for Kathryn Stott and Yo-Yo Ma / LIMELIGHT

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Back in June, I received an unexpected message from British pianist Kathryn Stott. I'd long been a great admirer of her musicianship and was familiar with many of her outstanding recordings but, until that point, our paths had barely crossed – we were yet to meet in person or even have a spoken conversation.

Kathy's enquiry itself was quite unusual: would I be interested in doing a ‘spin' on Waltzing Matilda for cello and piano? She made it clear that it was not to be a straightforward arrangement, but rather a more personal and inventive piece incorporating a ‘twist' on the famous ballad tune. Having long had a soft spot for the melody, I expressed my interest and gave Kathy a brief overview of how I might approach the task. I was very drawn to the idea of working on a more lyric version of the tune, in contrast to the jauntiness which characterises most versions of Waltzing Matilda we hear performed today.

Less than a week later I received an email from Yo-Yo Ma's office – he would be the cellist Kathy was collaborating with, and the Fantasia on Waltzing Matilda (as my work eventually became known) would be included in their upcoming album collection Songs of Comfort and Hope, to be released later in the year on Sony Classical. This was of course very exciting news. But more pressingly, the turnaround of six weeks to completion was very tight and there was little time to sit around idly pondering the task at hand.

Songs of Comfort and Hope includes 20 other tracks and is a beautifully curated collection of comforting music for our challenging times. To have contributed in my own small way to this inspiring project is something I will always consider to be a tremendous privilege.

READ THE FULL LIMELIGHT ARTICLE &* LISTEN TO THE MUSIC