More reflections on music
In my life outside of music I manage a neighbourhood centre in the Blue Mountains, the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre. Neighbourhood centres, or neighbourhood houses as they are described elsewhere in Australia, exist to support and empower our communities through a range of programs and services. Community development is a key practice in what we do, and I am particularly interested in connecting the arts with community development as I believe it is a very powerful tool in this practice.
Last year I had the opportunity to create a new project with my musician colleagues Mara and Llew Kiek of Mara Music (http://www.maramusic.com.au/) for the Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre. With Australian Government funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs, we created a work that commemorated the ANZAC Centenary, a significant and devastating milestone in Australia’s history in the First World War.
The belief that Australia ‘came of age’ as a nation when the ANZACs landed on Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 has been a tradition in Australia, even though the cost of battle was high, with some 2,400 Australian men killed, missing or wounded. And Gallipoli was only part of Australia’s involvement in the First World War, which came at a significant economic and social cost to Australia, and on the human level some 60,000 deaths. What can we make of this?
The show that developed, ‘A Kitbag of Memories’, was our offering to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary and honour our Australian soldiers and their families. We looked at the 2015 centenary as a way of commemorating 100 years of service, as well as recognising that by the end of World War 1 Australia’s identity as a nation in its own right was beginning to emerge. We would also wanted to honour all those who either lost their lives or were irreparably damaged by the tragedy of war.
The Lower Mountains Neighbourhood Centre is re-presenting this work, in partnership with Mara Music, on Saturday 23 April 2016 at 2pm at the Blue Mountains Theatre & Community Hub in Springwood. It is in three sections: (1) Going to War; (2) Being in the War; (3) Coming Home. Drawing on the music and other research, themes within these sections include peer pressure to join up, what women were doing during the war, our Indigenous soldiers, and what it was like to return home. The music is both music of the time, reflecting society’s attitudes to recruitment and then those attitudes changing in response to being in the war, as well as original music by Mara Kiek and other music appropriate to the themes of the show. We looked at the difficult stuff – that the Germans, the Turks, the British, the Australians, all had mothers and wives and brothers and children, too. We offer glimpses of stories from people in our community – and thank them for their generosity in sharing these stories with us - as well as poetry from Glenbrook-resident Brian Bell.
This is another musical side of my musical life. The research that Mara and Llew and I conducted in finding appropriate music of the time for the framework that we developed, and arranging that music, has been an extremely rewarding experience. You can find out more by going to LMNC’s website at the following link: http://www.lmnc.org.au/events/event/a-kitbag-of-memories-reflections-in-stories-and-song
And you might also be interested to read today's blog from one of my staff members, Christopher Smith, which refers to this project through his thoughtful post on memory. You can find this on LMNC's website at http://www.lmnc.org.au/blog/memory-and-a-kitbag-of-memories or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LowerMountainsNeighbourhoodCentre
If you are local to the Blue Mountains, I warmly encourage you to attend.
On my other music, I was touched to received an email from a colleague today that said, about my new CD ‘Places with High Levels of Natural Beauty ‘:
‘I listened to your lovely album. What beautiful, haunting music you create! You are very skilled at creating a mood and a moment through your music.’
What a lovely thing to say; as I said, I was so touched to receive this message.
And on that album, this week’s featured piece is ‘Persephone Sleeps Deeply before Awakening the Spring’, written for my friends Fiona and Pat on the birth of their daughter, Persephone. The sound tracks are converted to MP3s for listening on computers, so not as good sound quality as the wave files on a CD, but I hope you get the sense of the music, nonetheless.
Until next time,