Music as heritage interpretation: a case study of multi-disciplinary collaboration in "Sound from the Ground"

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference presentation/ephemera


In 2016 the National Trust of Western Australia invited classical guitarist Dr Jonathan Fitzgerald to serve as Artist in Residence at East Perth Cemeteries, a rare surviving group of colonial cemeteries in the midst of a busy city. The premise of the residency was to consider the material culture of the Cemeteries (chiefly the graves and associated archives) as the tangible collection representing 10,000 separate and interconnected lives that ended with burial at the Cemeteries. Fitzgerald’s response to the themes and stories that arose from his consideration of the collection shaped a concert experience entitled "Sound from the Ground", which included the world premiere of a composition commissioned as a contemporary response to the collection. The music, both historical and contemporary, performed in a heritage place and surrounded by the graves that informed the repertoire, created a fully immersive and unique visitor experience. The project required a multidisciplinary approach involving collaboration between professional musicians and composers, specialists in heritage collections and interpretation, and genealogical researchers. Music was the key interpretive device used to communicate and make connections between past lives and contemporary society. It challenged notions of how a collection may be understood, and demonstrated how material culture may inspire artistic endeavour. This unusual residency project highlights how intangible values associated with tangible collections may be unexpectedly revealed and brought to the attention of new audiences through music. The project won the 2017 Museums and Galleries National Award for Interpretation, Learning & Audience Engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2019
Event42nd Musicological Society of Australia National Conference: "Conflict-/-Collaboration" - Monash University , Melbourne , Australia
Duration: 5 Dec 20197 Dec 2019


Conference42nd Musicological Society of Australia National Conference
Internet address


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