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The Soldier Michael Lampard and The Pianist Alan Hicks
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Acclaimed composer and writer present new work at Sydney premiere

5 July 2018
A premiere three years in the making
The Sydney Conservatorium of Music presents the Sydney premiere of The Weight of Light by composer James Humberstone and writer Nigel Featherstone, featuring virtuosic duo Michael Lampard and Alan Hicks.

Composer James Humberstone and acclaimed writer Nigel Featherstone have collaborated to produce The Weight of Light. A powerful song cycle, it gives voice to the personal impact of modern warfare and addresses the relevant issues of today surrounding isolation, depression and suicide.

Having completed his latest tour of Afghanistan, an Australian soldier, longing for rest, takes leave and returns to his family’s farm in regional New South Wales. As he makes his way home he is confronted by news that is both life-affirming and devastating. This news forces him to reveal a dark secret, relive bittersweet memories and ultimately makes him question everything he once knew.

“Music, like any art form, responds to a condition, gives us context and ways to express thoughts on issues that may otherwise be difficult.”
Dr James Humberstone, Composer and Senior Lecturer in Music Education, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

“The Weight of Light touches on issues that we as a society are facing; issues around isolation, particularly in regional and rural areas, depression, suicide, and the shifting tide of what it means to be a man.”

Three years in the making, The Weight of Light is a gritty, mighty chronicle that relays issues that demand to be heard. Considered and thoughtful, librettist Nigel Featherstone created a unique character to voice his ideas. The Soldier is brought to life by Michael Lampard, whose emotionally rich interpretation and intimate portrayal reveals the frailty of the man.

“I feel that everything in the music comes from the words, and from the aesthetic and humanity of that person: We tried to balance the trauma, loss, and despair with an undercurrent of human spirit, life and hope. We wanted audiences to feel as though they’ve seen the soul of the soldier who, under his uniform, is just a man struggling like any of us,” Dr Humberstone said.

The Weight of Light was commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium with creative development by The Street Theatre, Canberra.


Composed by James Humberstone, Senior Lecturer in Music Education, Sydney Conservatorium of MusicUniversity of Sydney, as part of his ongoing research.