At this year’s Adelaide Festival, Nigel Westlake and Lior’s song cycle Compassion will be performed alongside its companion piece, Ngapa William Cooper, co-written with Dr Lou Bennett. They talk to Jansson J. Antmann about their collaborative process and what comes first: the words or music.

Lior Westlake
Lior and Nigel Westlake. Photo © Craig Abercrombie

When composer Nigel Westlake and singer/songwriter Lior joined forces to write Compassion, they were entering uncharted waters. Before its world premiere at the Sydney Opera House on 13 September, 2013, they had no idea if their efforts would pay off. They did, of course, and the song cycle received unanimous praise from audiences and critics alike. 

Written in response to the passing of Westlake’s son, Eli, five years earlier, it is a...