'Sacred Symphony'

Professor Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO FAHA (she, her) 

Yorta Yorta - Traditional Cultural Source; Lesbian; Composer, Soprano, Artistic Director, model train collector

Nicolette Fraillon AM (she, her) 

Spiritual; lover, Conductor, Music Director, Mother, Mentor, Agitator, Humanist, Organiser Extraordinaire, Educator, Ironer. “I found the love of my life in the woman I just married (January 2023 - Nicolette)”.


To be able to capture the portraits of this couple who are clearly deeply in love with one another on the eve of their marriage was a blessing and privilege. Their deep spirituality expressed through their lifelong work and craft in the creating of music and beauty with and for our world has now woven together through their union. Deborah’s strength and compassion as a survivor from the Stolen Generation intermingles with Nicolette’s courage and passion as a trailblazing woman orchestra conductor of international stature. Their stories of resilience, flourishing and generous giving of themselves through the arts stands as a monument to the immense generosity of LGBTIQA+ people’s contribution to the arts - that nourishes the spirit and consciences of all peoples, regardless of their backgrounds.

Image description:

Against a sky blue backdrop, Deborah stands on the front in a black couture outfit whilst Nicolette caresses her from the back as her arms drape over Deborah’s shoulders on the right and arms on the left as as their hands clasps together on Deborah’s chest, hugging. Nicolette is dressed in a flowing red couture dress as her eyes are closed in an expression of smiling contentment, as their faces are touching side by side whilst Deborah smiles in the same way in excitement with her eyes fixed on the camera. Their hands clasp together whilst their ring fingers clearly showing their wedding engagement rings that carries a shining rock. 

Reflections from Deborah:

 “My belief is that there is enough for everyone and that everyone should have enough.”

“Music is the means by which I connect to the source of all life. Deep listening brings me into the presence of my ancestors and helps me to better understand my purpose.”

“When I was 15 years of age, I visited the south coast of NSW - the area around Narooma and Bermagui known as the beautiful sapphire coast. I was mesmerised by the sparkling blue of the ocean and the sky, the coastline stretching on for miles and miles. When I returned home from that journey I was visited by a recurring dream. Night after night the image of a mountain reaching down to the sea came to me in my dreams. 

For 35 years this dream returned again and again. In 2018 I returned to the sapphire coast, this time to connect with my Grandfather's country and the people of the Yuin nation. Once more I was struck by the beauty of the ocean and the brilliant blue sky but this time, I turned my attention to the land as well and there was the mountain which had appeared to me in my dreams for so many years. Gulaga, Mother Mountain, sacred to the Yuin people. When I was 15 years old I knew very little of my Aboriginal heritage - I was a member of the stolen generations, I did not know my family. I did not know my belonging. All those years ago I did not see the mountain but the mountain saw me. Gulaga, Mother Mountain, called me home.”

“I would share the experience of deep listening so that we may advance from not knowing to knowing and then even more critically take the step from knowing to understanding.”

Reflections from Nicolette:

“My unswerving belief in the power of humanity to create good in this world informs everything I do, each day. The human mind is a remarkable thing and nurtured, cared for, given chances to thrive we are all capable of greatness-individually and collectively. The love for my wife, children and family, and deep connection to natural world are immutable sources of energy and sustenance but also drive me, unceasingly, to work towards an enlightened, accountable, ecologically caring and morally conscious society. I rise every morning and think to myself: Carpe the F*ing Diem and then try to.”

“Believing that all people are created equal and should be treated so, trying to embody that every day in all I do, whilst being vocal/open/public about the love for my now-wife and all that our life means- this is my practice. Assisting others, advocating on behalf of others, being fearless for and with others, is our life.”

Photographed by Jason Doyle of Studio Commercial