The guitar in colonial Queensland 

I am a current Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) candidate at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, where I am researching historical guitar activities in Queensland from the 1840s-1940s. 

As a guitarist, composer and researcher I often seek out and engage with lesser known repertoire and write chamber music works involving guitar. These original compositions often incorporate aesthetically and emotionally informed responses to historical sites, places, objects and ideas. My research project is derived from my interest in local history and extends my professional practice, primarily because it focusses on the exploration and revival of a neglected source of repertoire. My research outcomes will address a considerable knowledge gap in the history of the guitar in Australia through the mediums of publication and performance. Hence, research comprises two main elements: a written history of the guitar in Queensland and a body of creative works including arrangements and new compositions inspired by my research findings, alongside a selection of recordings and videos.

I've performed four recitals of historical works so far:

  • The first recital featured music for guitar with voice, piano and violin and I focused on music performed in Queensland from 1840-1880. Check out the programme here!

  • The second recital comprised music for the combination of guitars with mandolin and banjo. I focused on music performed in Queensland between 1880-1920. Standard and soprano guitars were used, as were ukulele and mandola. Check out the programme here!

  • The third recital was a continued exploration of music for guitars, mandolin and banjo. This concert was hosted by the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) and held in the parlour of Wolston Farmhouse to a full house. Check out the programme here!

  • The fourth recital was held at the Commissariat Store Museum as part of Brisbane Open House. At this concert we premiered my original work ‘Euogerra’ composed especially for the Enoggera Ensemble. Check out the programme here!

“I can honestly say that this was one of the finest recitals of any kind that I have ever heard. Bravo indeed!”

"This is one of the best research recitals I’ve ever heard. A highly original program, beautifully contextualised as a research outcome. Extremely polished performance, technically accomplished and musically compelling. The research has the potential to be taken beyond simple local interest, to become something significant and important."

“This was an exceptional recital in all respects. The musical interpretations were without exception at a very high professional level, stylistically varied, perfectly prepared and very convincingly performed. The audience and the examiners were clearly captivated from the very first to the very last note. The research, arrangements and masterful performances presented here are all perfect examples of what artistic research should be. This research contributes significant new cultural knowledge for Queensland, for the history of the guitar in Australia and the arrangements created are a resource for future generations of performers wishing to perform this music.”

“Duncan Gardiner’s recital was a highly significant chapter in Brisbane’s musicological history and an important contribution to research in this field. From the outset the public presentation was highly professional, embodying the best attributes of classical performance practice through a fresh, engaging and aesthetically sophisticated program.”

“Everything about this concert was immaculately designed and presented at the highest professional quality level. The Research Component of this presentation was central to the entire evening, and yet I’m sure that any casual audience member who might have simply attended expecting a normal Guitar Recital, would have been completely engrossed in the way both the Music and the Research was presented in such an inviting and engrossing manner. In my opinion this is everything that Artistic Research can and should be! The quality of Mr Gardiner’s guitar (and other instruments too) playing was simply flawless, and the ensemble playing exhibited by him and his associate artists was also top-notch and showed the highest levels of ensemble awareness, communication, and rapport. Duncan’s many arrangements were extremely skillful and well crafted.”