Mark Atkins is an Australian Aboriginal musician known for his prowess on the didgeridoo. Mark is also a storyteller, songwriter, composer and painter. He descends from the Yamitji people of Western Australia. He was the 1990 winner of the Golden Didjeridu competition. He has worked with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Hothouse Flowers, Philip Glass, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. In 2001 he collaborated with Wurundjeri elder Joy Murphy Wandin and composer Philip Glass in the concert work Voices, performed at the Melbourne Town Hall and New York’s Lincoln Centre. The composition was commissioned by the City of Melbourne to relaunch the Melbourne Town Hall Organ.
Acknowledged as one of Australia’s finest didgeridoo players, Mark Atkins is also recognized internationally for his collaborative projects with some of the world’s leading composers and musicians. A descendant of Western Australia’s Yamitji people, as well as of Irish/Australian heritage, Mark is known not only for his mastery playing, but also as a storyteller, composer, percussionist, visual artist and instrument maker. Through Mark’s lips the air blows as a natural desert sound, in old ethnic chants and in polyphonic melodies of astonishing rhythm.
Mark has incorporated the didgeridoo sound into some unlikely musical environments, adding its primal pulse to orchestral works, theatrical productions and dance presentation. He has performed alongside and composed with artists such as Philip Glass, Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Sinead O’Connor, Peter Sculthorpe, Donald Lunney, Ornette Coleman, Gondwana, Jenny Morris, John Williamson, James Morrison, the Blind Boys of Alabama and many more.
Mark co-wrote “Voices” for didgeridoo and organ with Philip Glass for the inauguration of the newly refurbished Melbourne Town Hall organ, which subsequently performed at the Lincoln Centre, New York, and toured to Amman, Jordan. As a regular collaborator with Philip Glass Mark performed live for the Sydney Opera House season of Naqoyqatsi and toured with Glass’ Orion. Orion premiered at the Cultural Olympiad in Greece and has subsequently toured to Italy, France, the UK, the USA, Mexico and Australia.
“through out the four movements, Mark Atkins’ didgeridoo score was not merely the garnish for the organ but a fully integrated personality in the sound textures. Atkins mapped a varied sonic territory, presenting a vast array of vocal interjections filtered through a range of different didgeridoos. His journeys conjured up worlds as different as the timeless outback and as transitory as contemporary electronic … the night belonged to Mark Atkins”. The Age, Melbourne
Mark’s solo work Grungada was commissioned by the Melbourne International Arts Festival and has since toured Australia and the world including France and Hong Kong. He has performed at Womadelaide, Australia, and WOMAD Seattle, USA.
He is a founding member of performance ensemble Black Arm Band. Featuring Australia’s most respected legends of indigenous contemporary music Black Arm Band has now created and performed Murandak, Hidden Republic and Dirtsong.
“The band’s own didgeridoo player, Mark Atkins, put the audience in a trance with one of the most sustained performances I have ever heard on that instrument, evoking a time and place long before the political troubles of the 20th century”. Arts Hub, Australia
Mark is a prolific instrument maker, creating and painting didgeridoos from logs which he collects in the bush near his home in Tamworth, New South Wales. Exhibitions of his traditional and contemporary visual artwork have been shown in Japan, Europe and the United States.
Mark has numerous recordings and compositions to his credit. His awards and achievements include the Golden Didgeridoo at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.< back