Our 2022 National Folk Fellow is Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan, who came to the Library to research the links between South Asia and Australia in quadrille music. Through their research, Mahesh is creating new songs and arrangements based on cross-cultural contact and shared history. 

Learn more about Mahesh’s experience at the Library, including their time in the National Collections and the recording studio. As part of their Fellowship, Mahesh will perform at the 2022 National Folk Festival

Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan
Dr Mahesh White-Radhakrishnan, 2022 National Folk Fellow. Image: Stephanie Morris 

‘The National Library is a great place to do research,’ Mahesh says.  

‘It has a massive collection of resources—there’s always more than you think you’re looking for. I was particularly interested in the folk music collection—both performances and oral histories—as well as some of the older musical manuscripts.  

‘I have been able to listen to audio recordings of folk music performance in Australia from as early as the 1950s. It’s developed my skills at looking over and narrowing things down from a vast collection or archive and finding the space to chase new angles of inquiry.  

‘I hope people learn that music can shed light on some really interesting global historic interconnections and that these can be found in the weirdest places—such as in the tunes used to accompany quadrille dancing! One interesting find was hearing interviews with people who remember going to dance events in sulkies! 

‘The National Folk Fellowship is an amazing opportunity to work with a rich collection, fantastic librarians and support staff, and to record in a well-equipped studio with knowledgeable and experienced sound engineers.  

‘Most of all, it is an opportunity to seek out really interesting connections between research and the creative process and open up windows into new areas to journey. It’s also great meeting and being inspired by the work of others doing research at the library. It’s been a life-changing experience.’ 

Applications for the 2023 National Folk Fellowship program are now open.