The Aborigines of northern Australia have likely been playing didgeridoos for more than 100,000 years. This Friday, when The Queensland Orchestra performs at the Festival of Asian Orchestras in Tokyo, it will be the haunting sound of this instrument that first reaches the ears of the audience. Behind the instrument will be 21-year-old William Barton, who was raised as a tribal Aborigine in the northwestern Queensland mining town of Mount Isa and is fast becoming Australia’s leading “didj player.”

Barton is soloist in new versions of “Mangrove” and “Earth Cry” by Australia’s leading composer, Peter Sculthorpe. Sculthorpe, 73, was a close friend of Toru Takemitsu, who, until his death in February 1996 at age 65, was the international voice of Japanese contemporary concert music. In his own music, Sculthorpe is the Australian counterpart of Takemitsu, having — since the mid-1960s — opened Australian music to the sounds of Asia, and to Japanese culture in particular.

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