The Rivers Sing

Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, Byron J Scullin, Thomas Supple

  • Art Installation
  • Performance
  • Family Friendly
  • Free
A view of the Melbourne city skyline at sunset framed by gum leaves

The large-scale audio artwork laps at the city’s riverbanks. RISING reprises its nightly call to the city.

In 2021, The Rivers Sing wound its way down the Birrarung and Maribyrnong rivers over six weeks. Created by Yorta Yorta/Yuin composer and soprano Deborah Cheetham, with artists Byron J Scullin and Thomas Supple, it was a large-scale audio work that sang out across the rivers, welcoming in the evening at each stop.

Recomposed with each iteration, Boonwurrang, Woiwurrung and English vocals combine and layer. The melodic fragments together create a harmonious composition celebrating place.

The original piece kept Melburnians company through lockdown, for those lucky enough to live near the CBD. Some nights, when conditions were right, The Rivers Sing could be heard even further upriver. Now it’s lapping at the city’s river banks again for RISING 2024.

At dusk, during the festival, it’ll rise above the city noise, inviting us all to pause and listen to its call together again.

Absolutely exquisite once again—the combination of the work’s beauty and melancholy...
— Richard Watts, Triple R

Artistic Team

Lead Artists

Deborah Cheetham AO, Byron J Scullin, Thomas Supple

Contributing Artists

Don Bemrose, Carolyn Connors, Dhungala Children’s Choir, Marita Dyson (The Orbweavers), James Henry, Jess Hitchcock, Charles Maimarosia, Nai Palm

Additional Sound Design

Joe Talia

Audio Playback System Design

James Sandri and Pete Brundle (More Studio) with Jason Read (Optical Audio)


Commissioned by RISING.

Venue support provided by Victoria University.

Image Credits

The Rivers Sing. Courtesy of the artist