Archive for the ‘drought’ Tag

Proper rain

Last Friday night there was an earthquake in Melbourne. 4.6 on the Richter scale – big for us, though not on a scale of earthquakes elsewhere. Still, think of the year we have had so far – heatwave. Firestorm. Less rain than ever before. Now an earthquake. What next? asked a friend recently. A volcano?

I’ve noticed Melbournians have a new way of talking about rain. “It’s raining,” we’ll announce with joy. “Yes…. but it’s not proper rain,” will come the reply, and we’ll have to admit this is true.

Proper rain soaks the ground. It takes the puddles a while to disappear – not just a few hours. It makes things really wet. It gets in the way of plans, means you consider things like an umbrella, or sensible shoes.

We don’t really get rain like that anymore. It rained this evening, while I was at my Italian class. We all stared out the window, completely distracted as we watched it get heavier and heavier. I started to feel a bit rueful, as I was on my bike and wearing very un-sensible shoes. But then it stopped. And it didn’t come back. I rode home in the dry.

A friend told me about children she knows here in Melbourne. According to their father, they are fascinated by rain (the way that other children might be fascinated by dirt, perhaps). They just haven’t really seen it, so when it rains they are taken completely by surprise, and are transfixed – for as long as it lasts, that is.

Drought breaker

Today and yesterday I made it rain.

I have been working with the young musicians from the MSO ArtPlay Ensemble, their last project for the year, and we created a Water Music project (they will go to hear the Orchestra rehearse Handel’s version next week).

They worked with newspaper articles and images to develop themes and textures about the water crisis. We had music depicting Polluted Water (urban waterways), Ice-caps melting, Water Levels Rising (water takes over the world), and, coming from the other extreme entirely, Drought.

The music was highly emotional in places, dramatic and stark in others. Drought ended with a Memory of Water, evoking the voice of a parched, dry earth perhaps, cracked and scarred. It was a sweet, simple melody, first heard as barely more than air – string harmonics over the low creaks of the dry earth (cellos holding down their lowest string and digging the bow into it) – before being picked up gradually by the whole ensemble.

I loved it. It probably had an earnest quality – so many of my projects do – which might make some people cringe, but in fact children of this age can be very earnest and idealistic, and these kinds of issues and ideas (water crisis, etc) speak to them very directly, I believe.

As always, we marvel at the growth in the young players, in the development of their musical ideas and engagement, over the two days of the proejct and over the course of the year. This is the third time we have run the ArtPlay ensemble program as a one-year program.

And yes, it did bucket down yesterday, and it rained again today. I have done a number of water projects over the last year and a half, and it is strange, but everytime I do one, it starts to rain. Given the scarcity of rain in Melbourne these days, that is no mean feat. Perhaps I should pitch my projects further north?