Cultivating young talent

ASPIRING indigenous singing stars in Glenelg Shire have tuned into advice from a star of the present.

Soprano, composer and academic Deborah Cheetham and her team from the Short Black Opera Company have spent a week helping develop the talents of 10 young Glenelg Shire indigenous singers, ranging in age from five to 15.

Ms Cheetham has performed in concert halls around the world but said one of her greatest privileges was helping young indigenous students reach their potential.

Ms Cheetham is head of the Wilin Centre at the University of Melbourne, which also ran a film and television course for secondary school students in Glenelg Shire, both groups later performing at the Portland Arts Centre. 

They will perform again at the Glenelg Shire Reconciliation Week celebration on May 30, at which Ms Cheetham will be guest speaker.

As director of Short Black Opera Company, a national not-for-profit company devoted to the development of indigenous opera singers, Ms Cheetham started the kids’ program to give guidance to the young.

She is a Yorta Yorta woman and niece of acclaimed Australian Aboriginal musician, actor and teacher Jimmy Little. The Portland visit was her fourth to the city.

“Portland compares really favourably to other places I have taught — the people really value their arts and the arts centre has such a diverse program,” Ms Cheetham said.


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