Indigenous Opera star appointed head of Wilin Centre

September 11 / 69

Internationally acclaimed Australian Indigenous soprano, Deborah Cheetham, has been appointed Head of the Wilin Centre for Indigenous Arts at the Faculty of the VCA and Music.

The Wilin Centre supports Australian Indigenous students at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. It educates and encourages students, staff and the public to recognise, celebrate and engage with diverse Indigenous arts, artists and communities.

Ms Cheetham has forged an international career as an operatic singer, actor and author of the acclaimed play, White Baptist Abba Fan, and more recently as the composer and director of Australia’s first Indigenous opera – Pecan Summer.

Dean of the Faculty of the VCA and Music, Professor Barry Conyngham, welcomed Ms Cheetham’s appointment.

“She will be an inspirational role model to aspiring Indigenous performers,” he said.

“Ms Cheetham has the depth and breadth of experience to help set new policy and program benchmarks. We are excited by the range of artistic prospects for Indigenous students that we believe will transpire through Ms Cheetham’s leadership of the Wilin Centre,” Professor Conyngham said.

Ms Cheetham said she was thrilled to accept the position of Head of the Wilin Centre.

“The Wilin Centre has been a vibrant hub for Indigenous arts practice.  The focus at the Wilin Centre will continue to shine a light on Indigenous achievement and to help Indigenous men and women find pathways to their chosen field of artistic expression.

Since her international debut in 1997, Ms Cheetham has performed in the theatres and concert halls of United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and throughout Australia.

She said her Pecan Summer opera, which will be presented at Melbourne’s Arts Centre Playhouse on September 28, 29 and 30, features a cast of current students and alumni from the Faculty of the VCA and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

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