On Saturday 21 October 2017, Sirius Chamber Ensemble is performing Where The Heart Is – a collaborative fundraiser for the not-for-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity Australia. The concert program will focus on the plight of the homeless in our society, featuring works by composers who were known to have been homeless or displaced during their lifetime.
Q&A with Melissa Coleman
- How did you research the pieces of work to include in the program?
I was listening to the radio one day, years ago, when I discovered that Joseph Haydn had fallen upon difficult times when a young student. He had gone away to Vienna to sing in the St Stephens Cathedral Choir as a young boy, but when his voice changed, he was thrown out of college. He had to try to make a living as a freelance performer and teacher, but so early in his career, this was very difficult for him, and he ended up homeless for some time. When I heard this, I was so surprised – imagine, if he had stopped studying and composing, we would be without all this wonderful music! From there, my interest was sparked. Then I kept looking further, and discovered that this experience was so much more commonplace than I’d originally thought.
- Why is homelessness an important issue to Sirius Chamber Ensemble?
Homelessness is something that affects people from all walks of life, and it has many different faces. Having a safe and secure home is such an important thing; and it’s difficult to know that there are so many people around the world who are struggling; living with the uncertainty, discomfort, and stress that homelessness brings.
Music can be a very powerful tool – it brings people together, gives a voice to those who are downtrodden, and speaks to the humanity in each one of us. When Sirius first met to discuss this project, we realised that perhaps through this concert we could create something positive, by playing the music of composers who have themselves experienced homelessness. By performing the brilliant music they have brought to our world, and highlighting the wonderful talent they possessed, it’s our hope that we can show not only the value of these four composers; but indeed, the value of all people, whether household names or not, who have experienced circumstances of homelessness in their lives.
- What is your connection with Habitat for Humanity, why did you select them for this project?
I have long been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity Australia, having been on a house build trip in Samoa several years ago, as well as being involved in house builds locally. The global trips are a wonderful opportunity to experience life in a completely new way; and it’s great to be able to help others out in a very practical way, at the same time as getting to know them personally. Habitat for Humanity do a really wonderful job – not only do they help those in need build safe homes to live in, they also build community and connection for all who are involved in the project.
- How will the funds raised be used?
Funds raised through ticket sales and collection on the night will empower families to build safer homes and stronger communities throughout the Asia Pacific region.
For more information on the great work that Habitat for Humanity do, head to www.habitat.org.au