On Composing Song to the Earth

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Quite often my music ideas come from a compelling sound or image.

In the case of Song to the Earth, it is both.

One, an image – A massive flock of pigeons swirling above my head sparked the idea of a swirling live music experience.

Two, a sound – summer cicadas choruses, and they way their collective sound changes as different cicadas join and leave.

Song to the Earth, a 20minute piece for 36 strings, 3 percussionists and recorded birdcalls, musically explores how these two ideas can come together, with flocking birds meeting humming cicadas.

Song to the Earth YoungBlues

Photography by Cal McKinnon

It is an innovative piece in three ways.

Firstly, it’s intended to be performed outdoors with the audience moving among the musicians. There is no stage, making it possible for the audience to stand next to the musicians while they play. When did you last get to hear the rich tones of a violin or cello right up-close?

Secondly, the performers are arranged in small groups that are like dots on a mandala (with inner and outer circles). This makes standing in the centre an extra special experience.

Thirdly, sound travels in this piece. Notes are passed around and between inner and outer circles. When you are walking amongst the performers, you can hear the music swirling around you.

Come and experience it for yourself on April 2 as part of Inherit the Wind, a show about the wonders and worries of the weather by director Meredith Elton that is produced by Bleach* Festival, the Gold Coast’s premiere multi-arts festival.

Song to the Earth will be performed by DeepBlue, master percussionist Michael Askill and 30 YoungBlues, high-school aged musicians from the Gold Coast area.

Special thanks to Meredith Elton for featuring Song to the Earth in Inherit the Wind, and for leading movement workshops with the young musicians to help them really embody the collective energy of a flock of birds/swarm of cicadas.

A big thank you to DeepBlue for bringing such enthusiasm and expertise in engaging with high-school aged musicians, in addition to their special talent for creating choreographed, physically engaging musical performances.

This is a free performance but places are limited. Book your tickets here.

Song to the Earth is funded via the Generate Program, an initiative of the City of Gold Coast through the Regional Arts Development Fund (RADF), a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast. Generate is also supported through a partnership between the City of Gold Coast and Queensland Government’s Office of the Commonwealth Games.

Inherit the Wind

Photographer John Gass