Music’s my element, something I need, like air and light.
For most of 2020, musicians couldn’t make live music with or for other people. What to do, when the world tilts so sharply that it’s hard to stand?
I picked wattle in an abandoned golf course.
I tried to support an ever-increasing circle of bewildered people.
I grieved and railed at the state of the world, and panicked about earning a living.
I did daily maths with my 10-year-old niece.
And I prowled my strictly 5km-from-home lockdown enclosure, wild with ideas.
A commission arrived. A gift, and with it, a slow-flooding return of a sense of hope, purpose. I assembled a cast of people whose work I love, some of whom I’d never met: a harpist and a recording engineer, eight living composers, eight dead ones, two visual artists, a writer, filmmaker, lighting designer, dramaturg, costume designer and producer.
I was thinking about shelter. I wondered whether together, we could create a sense of that?
My mind went to bowerbirds and their obsessive collecting habits. And also, their ability to build magical architecture out of fragments — structures that entwine art and survival.
Slowly, gently, through a close-to-home, quietly attentive year, we each created our own versions of sanctuary. And then sifted, sorted and fashioned them into a bower.
Bower has been released as an album by ABC Classics. It premiered live at Melbourne Recital Centre, July 2021, for Musica Viva. It will tour Australia in 2022.