Nomadic Night

Deborah Cheetham, Toni Lalich & Chineke! Chamber Ensemble

Songs of Belonging

Location: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, view access map
Prices and conditions

About the event

Deborah Cheetham (soprano and composer)
Toni Lalich (piano)
Chineke! Chamber Ensemble: Chi-chi Nwanoku (double bass), Mariam Adam (clarinet), Klouda Ashok (cello), Pierre Buizer (French horn), Armand Djikoloum (oboe), Meera Maharaj (flute), Beatrice Nicholas (piano),Tania Passendji (violin), Natalia Senior-Brown (viola), Linton Stephens (bassoon)

The Nomadic Nights would like to extend their warmest thanks to the Maison des étudiants canadiens at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris for their warm welcome during rehearsals. We would also like to thank the Short Black Opera.

Renowned Australian Aboriginal soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham (of the Yorta Yorta people) presents a bespoke recital of works for and as part of the Sally Gabori exhibition, with the world premiere of Dibirdibi, a homage to Sally Gabori in the Kayardilt language.

For over twenty-five years, Deborah Cheetham has played a pioneering role in the Australian artistic landscape. One of Australia’s most honored musicians (she is an Officer of the Order of Australia and in 2021, was appointed to the First Nations Chair of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), she has had an impressive international career as both an opera singer and composer, and has performed all around the world. A child of the “stolen generation”, she was taken from her parents at the age of three weeks and placed in a working-class white Australian Baptist family. It wasn’t until she turned thirty that she began to question her Aboriginal roots. Since that time, she has played an active role in the forging of the “First Nations” narrative and has given Aboriginal communities a platform for expression. In 2009, she founded the Short Black Opera, an Australian opera company dedicated to the education of Aboriginal opera singers. The following year, she produced Australia’s first Aboriginal opera, entitled Pecan Summer. In 2019, she founded the Ensemble Dutala, the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander chamber music ensemble.

“I am a 21st-century urban woman who is Yorta Yorta by birth, stolen generation by policy, soprano by diligence, composer by necessity and lesbian by practice.” – Deborah Cheetham

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition of Australian Aboriginal artist Sally Gabori (of the Kaiadilt people) at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Deborah Cheetham honors us with her presence in Paris. Surrounded by pianist Toni Lalich and Chineke!—a chamber music ensemble founded by double bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku, which advocates for change and diversity in classical music—, she has imagined a special evening in honor of Sally Gabori. The public can enjoy a recital of works in different Aboriginal languages and the creation known as Dibirdibi, a commission by the Fondation Cartier to the composer, and presented here for the very first time.

This concert will be followed by a discussion with Deborah Cheetham, where she recalls her remarkable career and shares the history of Australia’s Aboriginal communities.


Yorta Yorta woman Deborah Cheetham maintains a busy international career as a soprano, composer and Artistic Director and has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape. After graduating of the Sydney Conservatorium of music and creating her first major work, White Baptist Abba Fan, Deborah Cheetham established in 2009 Short Black Opera, as a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers in Australia. The following year she produced her first opera, Pecan Summer, and this landmark work was Australia’s first Indigenous opera. She has composed three operas, numerous orchestral and choral pieces, the Woven Song suite, several chamber music pieces and two sonic artworks. In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Cheetham was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). In 2020, Deborah Cheetham was Composer-in-residence for the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and commenced her appointment as Professor of Music practice at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University. She was appointed as the inaugural First Nations Chair of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2021.

Toni Lalich has worked as an accompanist in Melbourne for the past 25 years, performing with professional singers and instrumentalists. After completing her undergraduate studies in Western Australia, Toni studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. On her return to Australia, she completed her Post Graduate studies at the Victorian College of the Arts. In 2011, Toni commenced the position of Company Manager for Short Black Opera and continues with her role as company vocal coach. Established in 2009 by Deborah Cheetham, Short Black Opera is a national not-for-profit opera company devoted to the development of Indigenous singers. In 2019, Toni Lalich received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the performing arts, particularly music.

Chineke! Foundation was founded in 2015 by the double bass player Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE to provide career opportunities for established and up-and-coming Black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe. Chineke!’s mission is: ‘Championing change and celebrating diversity in classical music’. The Foundation's flagship ensemble, Chineke! Orchestra, is Europe's first majority Black and ethnically diverse professional orchestra. two years after the orchestra, the Chineke! Chamber Ensemble comprises the principal players of the Chineke! Orchestra.

Practical information


Regular admission
12€ (13€ on site)
Reduced admission

Conditions of reduced admission.

Students (except for Tuesday from 6pm)
Job seekers
Over 65 years old
Teachers (Pass Education)
Pass Paris Visite
Members of partners institutions

8€ (9€ on site)

Additional information

Estimated duration: 1h10.
Doors open at 7pm.
Seated concert, subject to availability.
Discussion in English, consecutive translation in French.
Nomadic Nights begin at the time indicated: latecomers will only be allowed entry if this does not disturb the show.
This event will be filmed by the team of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain to be broadcast on its websites and social media. The public is likely to appear in these images.
The exhibition Mirdidingkingathii Juwarnda Sally Gabori will not be accessible during the Nomadic Night.