The Glitter Gang (1973-74): A microcosm of Malcolm Williamson's views on social inclusivity and his Australian identity
Philpott, C and Humberstone, J, The Glitter Gang (1973-74): A microcosm of Malcolm Williamson's views on social inclusivity and his Australian identity, Musicology Australia, 38, (1) pp. 1-28. ISSN 0814-5857 (2016) [Refereed Article]
This article combines new research into the life and musical output of Australian expatriate composer and
nineteenth Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson (1931–2003). Focusing on one of his ‘cassations’
(mini-operas) for musically untrained children, The Glitter Gang (1973–1974), new conclusions are drawn about
how this often controversial composer developed a philosophy of inclusiveness and expressed it through his music.
The Glitter Gang was one of the few works that Williamson wrote about his homeland, Australia, and the first in
which he expressed his views pertaining to the rights of indigenous Australians. This article examines the context
in which The Glitter Gang was composed and shows how he projected his Australian identity and attempted to
influence political discussion through this intriguing musical work. Detailed analysis of the score reveals that
it is a deeply sophisticated composition, especially considering its intended performers, and demonstrates how
Williamson retained his unique compositional voice in the cassations. Significantly, this research shows that like
other works which were rejected by Australian audiences and critics in the 1970s, The Glitter Gang can now be
reappraised as an important and innovative Australian composition.
composer, Malcolm Williamson, social inclusivity, Australian, identity