Queensland at Home is Robert Davidson’s original composition synchronised with home movies shot in Queensland during the 1920s-50s, edited by Sally Golding. Most of these films from the State Library of Queensland have been sitting in their cans unopened since they were developed. Topology (saxophone, violin, viola, double bass and piano) performs live underscoring the everyday activities of Queenslanders, surrounded by long-gone buildings and bridges, sporting vanished fashions and living boisterously. The music is tender, joyful and tinged by the melancholy that accompanies thoughts of life’s transience.



Viola Zen Cry - Robert Davidson

Viola Zen Cry has a title which is an anagram of its source, which I shall leave to you to make out. The song is recast in a tender setting with a lot of space and enjoyment of tonal nuances.

Queensland at Home - Robert Davidson

Queensland at Home is a collaboration between Robert Davidson and filmmaker Sally Golding, commissioned by the Queensland Music Festival for the 2009 festival. For the work, we were given access to a large number of home movies from the State Library of Queensland, many of them unopened for many decades. The films were shot in Queensland during the 1920s-1950s, and depict home life, babies, families, greetings, farewells, rites of passage, work, play, travel, technology, entertainment and architecture. You’ll see many buildings and structures that no longer exist, such as the old 1897 Victoria bridge joining South Brisbane and the city centre (now only stumps).

There is a great deal of life in the people depicted in the films. They seem full of energy and activity. They also seem very fit and in shape in those pre-TV days! The music takes hold of this, and is by turns tender and animated, melodic and rambunctious, expansive and delicate.

Another thing that struck me forcibly when conceiving the music was that a large majority of the people appearing in the film would have died by now, and I started to view the work as a memento mori. This is particularly noticeable in the wedding scene, which becomes tinged with the sadness of loss. Sally seems to have been drawn to images of circles, spinning, turning - the cycle of life. This is reflected in the music, which is oriented very much to the cyclical. My hope is that the performance heightens perception of the everyday as being actually pretty extraordinary.

About the artists


“Topology are the most creative and important composers of new contemporary classics in Australia today” - Christopher Lawrence, ABC Classic FM

Topology celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2017 with a season at New York’s Lincoln Center and two new albums, bringing their total to fourteen, receiving ARIA nominations and APRA awards. They have produced hundreds of original concerts and are national leaders in creative collaboration. Undaunted by stylistic barriers, the quintet has created stunning new work with partners in theatre (Geoffrey Rush, Neil Armfield), classical music (the Brodsky Quartet, the Southern Cross Soloists), contemporary art music (Terry Riley, Speak Percussion), dance (Expressions Dance Company, Heidi Duckler Dance, Queensland Ballet), theatre (Queensland Theatre Company, Abhinaya Theatre Company) puppetry (Dead Puppet Society), contemporary jazz (Trichotomy, Loops), popular songwriting (Kate Miller-Heidke, Katie Noonan, The Saints), comedy (the Kransky Sisters, Gerry Connolly), Asian music (Dheeraj Shrestha, Ubiet) and indigenous Australian music (William Barton). They are regularly featured in major festivals internationally, including the Ghent, Singapore, Olympics, Sydney, Adelaide and ISCM festivals and many more. They also are very active in their education and community programs, which have won numerous awards.

Topology are:

John Babbage, saxophones

Christa Powell, violin

Gregory Daniel, viola

Robert Davidson, double bass

Therese Milanovic, piano


Zelman Cowen Building, UQ St Lucia
The Nickson Room