Eric Avery revitalising Indigenous language through song

by Lia Ribeiro de Noronha

Indigenous composer Eric Avery works towards reconciliation through music, opening Integrity 20 with a message of connection sung in his traditional language.

Eric Avery photos by Isabella Porras

He welcomed audiences to country with a moving melody called “Galinga” (Water Song)”.

This virtuoso violinist hails from northern New South Wales but his prolific career spans states and professions.

The dancer, poet, composer and musician has worked with the likes of ‘The Black Arm Band’, composed for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and preformed at the 30th anniversary of the Australian parliament house.  

He hopes to highlight connection to culture through his music.

Language has been sustained through music for 60,000 years,” he said.

“I’ve been learning about language and culture and the responsibility to uphold them.”

The Ngiyampaa, Yuin,  Gumbaynggirr and  Bundjalung man explains that his music aims to respect ancient languages as well as contributing his own musical flavour.  

His song, Galinga, centres around water.

 “I’ve learnt a lot about from by family who do a lot of work around culture- water is sacred, for me its also a lot about energy – I sing about water because its cleansing,” he said.

This innate respect and regard for the water element ties in strongly with this year’s Integrity 20 theme, “For Tomorrow”. 

Climate change is core to conference discussions, and Avery’s message to safeguard our nature is deliberate. He highlights the symbolisim embedded within the tune.

“Tension in the strings alludes to the heightened anxiety that climate change brings,” he said.

“Music has attached emotions and feelings and that’s what I’ve been exploring this year.”

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