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MusicPart of Humanities

National Award for Songs of Home

Published: 8 December 2020
Songs of Home poster

Songs of Home ,an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney featuring research by Music’s Professor Jeanice Brooks, has won the 2020 MAGNA award for best travelling or temporary exhibition from the Australian Museums and Galleries Association.

The exhibition, which ran from August-November 2019, revealed the vibrant soundscape of New South Wales during the first 70 years of settlement, exploring themes of home and homeland through the musical experiences of indigenous peoples and immigrants in the early colony. Brooks worked with lead curator Dr Matthew Stephens of Sydney Living Museums and Australian music expert Graeme Skinner on the narrative and object selection, drawing on her own work on domestic music-making in eighteenth-century Britain to examine musical practices of British convicts, settlers and colonial administrators. Funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain helped to support work on the British elements of the exhibition, including the creation of new sound and video recordings for the exhibition soundtrack, recorded at Jane Austen’s House Museum and at Dalkeith Palace (Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust). The recordings featured Southampton alumna Dr Samantha Carrasco, as well as performances by Concerto Caledonia, led by Dr David McGuinness of the University of Glasgow. Jeanice also collaborated with composer Dr Laura Bowler on a new song cycle, An Artificial Social Protection, which explored British women’s experiences of migration and which was premiered in conjunction with the exhibition.

MAGNA logo

In conferring the award, the judges particularly commended the soundtrack for the exhibition: ‘The soundtracks and compositions for the exhibition were very exciting and engaging on many levels. The partnerships and collaborations as well as deep research into the content has created a rich exhibition experience’. The complete soundtrack for the exhibition remains available online.

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