Celebrating the Life of Roy David Page

The incredible legacy of Roy David Page will be celebrated in a public ceremony at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s Concert Hall in his hometown of Brisbane on Monday 9 May at 11am.

The Page family and Bangarra will honour David’s life through film, images and song in a ceremony for family, friends, community and colleagues.

David was the musical heartbeat of Bangarra, composing scores for 27 of the company’s 35 major works. He invented a pioneering modern soundtrack that embodied traditional language, song and instrumentation with the sounds of electronica, hip-hop, classical and nature, defining the Bangarra sound that would fill the theatre and leave audiences reverberating with hauntingly beautiful melodies. David had an innate talent for giving voice to Country and to land that could awaken emotions from deep within.

Yet his legacy at Bangarra is just one fragment of a rich tapestry of art he wove across multiple forms. David’s early fame arose from his backyard performances with his family as the eighth of twelve siblings growing up in Mt Gravatt in Brisbane. This led to his teenage singing career as Little Davey Page, where he became the first Australian to be signed to the famous Motown label, Atlantic Records.

This period of his life was then translated into a highly successful one-man show, Page 8, which he starred in to great acclaim both here and internationally. Page 8 was directed by Stephen in one of their many collaborations. His musical gifts were fostered studying saxophone, voice, composition and song at the Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM), located within the Elder Conservatorium of Music at Adelaide University. This classical training gave David the foundation for composing and traditional song connections. 

In 2000, David contributed music to the Opening Ceremonies of the Sydney Olympic Games, and he was a prolific contributor to numerous scores for television, film and theatre. Among his film score credits were 2006’s Kanyini, 2007’s Hush, 2009’s Jacob and 2015’s Spear.

He was also a talented actor, with his first leading role in Queensland Theatre Company’s The Sunshine Club in 1999. He also performed in Belvoir’s Yibiyung in 2008 and 2009’s The Man from Mukinupin, Sydney Theatre Company’s Bloodland in 2012, Queensland Theatre Company’s Mother Courage in 2013 and Black Diggers in 2014 as well as Country Song at QPAC in 2015. His film acting roles included playing Kenny in Warwick Thornton’s short film Green Bush in 2005 and a hilarious turn as drag queen Regina in Richard Frankland’s 2009 comedy Stone Bros.

Among his many award wins and nominations, David was the recipient of three Helpmann Awards for Best Original Score (Mathinna 2008, Belong 2011 with Steve Francis and Blak in 2013 with Paul Mac), a Green Room Award for acting in Page 8, four Deadly Awards for sound and an ARIA nomination.

The Page family have been touched by the outpouring of support from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Australian arts communities in the past few days. They encourage people who are in Brisbane, and those who can travel to Brisbane, to celebrate David’s life with them on Monday 9 May.

QPAC’s Concert Hall has the capacity to hold 1,500 people, but if capacity is reached, the ceremony will be able to be viewed and heard to the general public in foyers.

David will be buried in a private family ceremony directly afterwards.

The Page family will consider appropriate celebrations of David's life in Sydney over the coming months. All performances of Bangarra’s upcoming program OUR land people stories will be dedicated to David.

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