On Composing Song to the Earth

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 new large-scale piece for string orchestra, percussion 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 7 & 8, 2018 as part of Bleach*Festival.

Song to the Earth will be performed by DeepBlue, master percussionist Michael Askill and 50 remarkable young musicians from the Gold Coast area.

Song to the Earth is co-commissioned By Bleach* Festival, City Of Gold Coast And The Queensland Government Through The Regional Arts Development Fund And The Office Of The Commonwealth Games And Arts Queensland. Produced By Bleach* Festival.