Today the NFSA presents the inaugural Cochrane Smith Award for Sound Heritage to Dr Karl Neuenfeldt. Karl has made an enormous contribution to the sound heritage of the Torres Strait through his efforts in recording, producing and promoting recordings of musicians from the area. In doing this he has had to balance the often conflicting demands of an academic career with the field work and studio time required to get the Torres Strait Islander’s songs and stories onto CD. His success has ensured the preservation of this wonderful creative legacy and gained valuable exposure and recognition for talented musicians of the Torres Strait.
Karl has been a great supporter of the National Film & Sound Archive. He has collected and donated a lot of recordings from the Islands that are way off the ARIA circuit. He has also collected and donated rare recordings from around the world that reveal an avid global interest in the didgeridoo. An academic with a string of papers and articles to his name, Karl is also an active musician himself. He has played in Seaman Dan’s band, as well as producing his own ARIA award winning albums. He is also a mentor to young musicians working in genres such as Rock and Hip Hop. He is not someone who seeks the limelight, but I hope this award will make his name a little better known.