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 Atkins is known not only for his masterly 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 Atkins 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 Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Sinead O’Connor, Philip Glass, , Donald Lunney, Ornette Coleman, Peter Sculthorpe, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Gondwana, Jenny Morris, John Williamson, James Morrison, the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) and many, many more.
Mark’s solo didgeridoo 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.
Mark co-composed “Voices” for organ and didgeridoo with Philip Glass for the inauguration of the newly refurbished Melbourne Town Hall organ. It 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 and Melbourne Arts Centre seasons 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.
Mark Atkins is a prolific digeridoo 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.
Recent engagements include the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Nuit des Virtuose Festival (La Reunion), Queensland Theatre Company's Mother Courage, Four Winds Festival (NSW), the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s Reef Tour, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, The Black Arm Band, with the Philip Glass Ensemble at the Arts Centre (Victoria) and Mark was a featured performer at Oz Fest (India and Nepal).