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Guitar globetrotter to teach desert musicians

By Patrick Nelson

Music lecturer Francis Diatschenko … “I see music as an art form and a craft” Music lecturer Francis Diatschenko … “I see music as an art form and a craft”

A man who has toured the world with Indigenous music icon Gurrumul Yunupingu has just begun a new career as a lecturer with CDU.

Francis Diatschenko will spend most of March in the remote Central Australian community of Hermannsburg, delivering a Certificate II course in contemporary music.

He brings a wealth of experience having performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and alongside Australian stars Missy Higgins, John Butler and Delta Goodrem.

But he also has plenty of local knowledge, having grown up in Central Australia and the Top End.

“I’ve come full circle,” he said in reference to his earliest memories of Central Australia.

“We moved to Yulara when I was six years old and then Alice Springs where Dad worked as a carpenter.”

Mr Diatschenko completed Year 12 at Casuarina High School before studying classical guitar at the Northern Territory University under Adrian Walter and Martin Jarvis. In 2008 he accepted an invitation to join Gurrumul Yunupingu’s original band.

“Within a few weeks I was in New York playing Carnegie Hall, one of the most prestigious concert venues in the world.

“We also played in Beijing, Paris and at the Sydney Opera House, where we met members of the Royal Family."

Mr Diatschenko’s two-year Outback appointment is in stark contrast to the short-term contract he fulfilled on the five-star cruise ship Oosterdam over summer.

“I performed as guest entertainer on a 12-day voyage in the South Pacific over Christmas and New Year,” he said.

That experience, as well as performances at Glastonbury Music Festival, the Aria Music Awards and on television programs such as The Voice and The Jools Holland Show, have equipped Mr Diatschenko with a wealth of practical industry knowledge.

“This will be a journey of a different type, but it’s great being back in Central Australia and I’m excited about working with some talented Indigenous musicians.

“I see music as an art form and a craft. My role will be to improve each participant’s level of musical literacy and to energise them to take their skills and knowledge to a higher level.

“It will culminate in a concert where the students will put into practice what they’ve been learning in the course.

“That will give me a working opportunity to assess their competencies, which is what it’s all about.”

CDU works in partnership with the Central Australian Aboriginal Music Association to deliver the Music Ranger Training Program on behalf of MacDonnell Shire.

“We will look at sound editing, song writing, event management, advertising and promotion, equipment maintenance and copyright,” Mr Diatschenko said.

Other programs are being planned for Ti Tree and Santa Teresa later in the year.