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Symphony for Perth 2014

Seven WA schools contributed to the Perth Festival 2014 finale, a symphony titled ‘Between the Desert and the Deep Blue Sea’.

The Commissioner supported the involvement of primary and high school students in this innovative musical production that involved them transforming sounds from their lives and communities into music using special computer software.

Along with other contributions, the students’ music was submitted to Tod Machover, composer and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, who crafted a symphony played live by the West Australian Symphony Orchestra on 1 March 2014.

The Perth International Arts Festival event followed similar community-sourced productions in Toronto and Edinburgh.

School workshops

Tod Machover ran workshops in each Perth school in November to assist them in the process of creating the music using the supplied computer software.

Students from three schools attended a rehearsal of the symphony on 1 March where Tod talked about the process of creating the music. Other students attended the formal performance of the symphony later that evening.

Schools involved were Aquinas College, Perth Modern School, Woodvale Secondary College, Lakeland Senior High and Narrogin, Inglewood and Churchlands primary schools.

The symphony

Several students had their musical contributions directly included in the symphony, with their sections recognised on the performance display and also in the original score.

Tod Machover acknowledged the excellent contributions of all students, but especially recognised Year 10 student from Woodvale, Heather, whose music was included without any other accompaniment or alteration.

“Heather’s composition was so fantastic, I wanted to include it as supplied, something I haven’t done previously when creating symphonies for the Edinburgh and Toronto festivals,” Tod said.

Participation in the arts

Another aspect of the sponsorship was a ticket allocation that enabled other WA children and young people to attend a Festival event.

The Commissioner provided some of the tickets to the WA Institute of Deaf Education so that students could see the production Not By Bread Alone which involves deaf-blind performers.

Principal Steve Watson said the students were clearly inspired by the performance and being able to meet the performers on stage, particularly one student who is herself deaf-blind.