New show based on memories of life at the Woodford Academy

Composer: Noel Burgess at the Woodford Academy. Photo by Ann Niddrie
Composer: Noel Burgess at the Woodford Academy. Photo by Ann Niddrie

The Sound of Memories - Woodford Academy is a multi-room acousmatic interpretive experience by Blue Mountains based composer Noel Burgess.

The original composition is based on a sonic record that forms part of the vast archive collection held at the 180-year-old National Trust property.  The 1988 recording features a conversation between the then 92-year-old Gertrude McManamey, the school rector’s daughter and the final occupant of the historic property, with three female friends. The conversation is a reflection on her life at the Woodford Academy School for Boys during the early 20th century.  

Burgess is a music composer/producer whose 30-year career spans the fields of performance, albums, film and interpretive installations. Well known for working with electronic music, he draws from an expansive musical and sonic palette for composing for new themes and topics. 

For the past five years he has also volunteered on the Woodford Academy Management Committee as the treasurer/events manager, developing new ways to engage audiences of all ages and backgrounds with historic properties.

Burgess’s unique and intimate knowledge of  both the building and the stories of those who once lived there is evident in this new work. 

“I discovered this recording in the archives a number of years ago, and was intrigued by the layering of narratives and fragmented nature of the recalling of memories of events from almost a century ago,” he said. “The recording paralleled research I am currently undertaking in my PhD at Macquarie University on sound, composition and non linear narratives,” he said.

“In this work I am creating a visitor experience which explores the non linear nature of memories.”

Now in its fourth consecutive year, the multi award winning National Trust property showcases local artists as part of the museum’s innovative cultural program.

The Sound of Memories - Woodford Academy is at the Woodford Academy on Saturday, August 18 from 10am-4pm. Artist Talk 1-2 pm. The Woodford Academy Museum/Cafe is open from 10am-4pm on the third Saturday of each month. Adults $6; concession/child (4-16yrs) $4; family $15 (2 adults, 2 children).