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After a year of challenge and change, when our loved ones have never felt so far away, Christmas is taking on new significance for us all. ABC Classic has brought Australia together through song with this recording of a brand new Christmas carol, Christmas With You, commissioned from leading composer and Yorta Yorta woman Deborah Cheetham.
Thousands of Australians from every corner of the continent, and beyond, joined in the inaugural ABC Classic Choir, participating in online rehearsals and coaching sessions; 1500 people went on from that to film themselves as they recorded this heartwarming carol. And all of those individual videos feature in the ABC Classic video release of Christmas With You.
From choir members who’ve been cut off from their own choirs for most of the year, to first time singers who have always wanted to be part of a choir but never felt brave enough – the ABC Classic Choir has given everyone the chance to come together to make music.
Christmas With You gives voice to what Christmas means in 2020, lifting our spirits as we approach the end of the year. It captures the festive mood of comfort and joy as well as paying tribute to our shared experiences and affirming the importance of our connections with loved ones near and far.
The Christmas With You video is now available to stream on the ABC Classic website and Facebook account, and for download via iTunes. There’s also an audio version which is available as a digital single on all the major streaming and download services.
About the composer
Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and educator, has been a familiar voice in the Australian arts landscape for more than 25 years. In 2014 she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), for distinguished service to the performing arts as an opera singer, composer and artistic director, to the development of Indigenous artists, and to innovation in performance.
Short Black Opera Café, Death Scenes and Drama Queens and ‘Til The Black Lady Sings were early successes for Deborah, combining her talents as a writer, performer and entrepreneur. ‘Til the Black Lady Sings has touched audiences in London, New York, Eastern Europe and around Australia for almost a decade.
Commissioned to write and perform a one-woman play for the Olympic Arts Festival Wimmin’s Business series, Deborah gave the premiere performance of her first major work at the Sydney Opera House in 1997. White Baptist Abba Fan was to dominate Deborah’s career the next five years and became the vehicle for her international debut.
In 2009, Deborah established Short Black Opera as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous opera singers. The following year she produced the premier of her first opera Pecan Summer. This landmark work is Australia’s first Indigenous opera and has been a vehicle for the development of a new generation of Indigenous opera singers. In 2019, Deborah wrote Australia's first requiem based on the frontier wars between first nations people in South Western Victoria and settlers: Eumeralla, a war requiem for peace, is sung entirely in the Gunditjmara language and was premiered by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the MSO Chorus and the Dhungala Children's Choir.
In March 2015 Deborah was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.
About the artwork
The cover art for these digital releases comes from a new artwork called Nyirram turt-barram, commissioned by ABC Classic from Wadawurrung artist Deanne Gilson. It depicts the hope that the Nyirram turt-barram (Morning Star) brings us, and the story of Bundjil, the creator and his wife Koonawarra (the Black Swan) who gave birth to the morning star child. Today, the star child represents all our children, and through them our future hopes and dreams.
Christmas With You
Words and music by Deborah Cheetham
Performed by the ABC Classic Choir, directed by Benjamin Northey
and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nathan Aspinall