It was such a treat to attend the sell-out performance of “Where Song Began” – a musical celebration of Australia’s birds and how they shaped the world – held in the atmospheric wood panelled room at Cottesloe Civic Centre, in Perth.
While the music captivated me the room was unexpected. It reminded me of Tudor England and I imagined women in modest dresses sitting doing embroidery. Wouldn’t it be great if more performances were held in quirky locations? They add so much to the atmosphere.
Before the concert began everyone was happily mingling and chatting in the adjacent room but this quickly turned to eager anticipation once we took our seats. Some were attracted by the joinder of bird song and music and it was great to see children who were keen to get the best view at the front of the room. Once the music began the audience was swept up by a multi-sensory experience.
When it comes to the music, I have no training and I didn’t even learn the recorder at school. So, when I listen to music I focus on the emotion and how it triggers memories.
“Where Song Began” made me feel like Anthony Albrecht and Simone Slattery took us on a journey through time – a seamless joinder of music, bird song, art and film. The first piece inspired a feeling of being in ancient Australia. The unexpected addition of the didgeridoo enhanced that feeling.
Another piece triggered a memory of going to a bird sanctuary in Yorkshire, we didn’t see many birds but it was a fun day. The music was the perfect soundtrack to the image of a flock of birds swooping in unison against a grey sky. While I was caught up in the memory an odd thought entered my mind: what would happen if a bird, like some humans, was directionally challenged? How discordant that would be!
This was a performance where we didn’t just listen to the music: we felt it, we watched the film, marvelled at the Brett Whiteley painting of a lyrebird, were amused by Simone mimicking bird song and soothed by her voice. At times the music was jarring but there were moments of peace. The concert was a well thought out way for the audience to get more out of the music. The program had excerpts from Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending, David Lang, “Anthochaera Carunculate”, and Bach’s Prelude from Cello Suite No.1, to name but a few.
At the end we enjoyed a lively question and answer session about the inspiration for the project, its development and where it has taken the performers and where they were going next. Finally, as this was in a community venue, we stacked the chairs against the side of the room and my friend and I left very satisfied with the experience. Thank you!
Arvo Pärt – Fratres for solo violin, 1977
Sarah Hopkins – Reclaiming the Spirit, 1993
Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending, 1917
Chris Williams – bird, songs, seas, 2017
Ross Edwards – Ecstatic Dance No.2, 1990
Johann Heinrich Schmelzer – Cucu Sonata, 1664
J.S. Bach – Prelude from Cello Suite No.1, c.1720
David Lang – Anthochaera carunculate (Red Wattle Bird), New Commission, 2017
Ngarra Burra Ferra – Traditional Indigenous hymn
This tour is supported by Birdlife Western Australia. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to Birdlife. The performance features photography and footage from renowned WA photographers Muneer Al Shanti and Mark Eatwell. Muneer Al Shanti will be exhibiting his work for this first time at the Cottesloe performance.