Changing the Narrative through music by Sean Mee
Under This Sky - Logan: A Musical Celebration, was the biggest Queensland Music Festival community event I was involved with.
It brought together over 750 people from across the city who joined in partnership with Queensland Music Festival to tell a story of their own making. And for the first time, we invited musicians from the community to compose the score. It was a joining together of two Queensland Music Festival programmes; these community events and Song Trails, the workshops series for musicians deployed in the recent festivals with great success. We did this because we could. Our initial research and connections with community reveals an amazing depth of musicality throughout Logan; from the excellent music and performance programs in the schools to the highly skilled choirs and singers with the many different cultural groups that are resident in this most complex of communities. As creative director of Logan: A Musical Celebration, I was responsible for the development and realisation of the work. But really, it was a partnership of many; artists, teachers, local government, Queensland Music Festival staff and executive, producers, writers, facilitators, all seeking to connect and empower this community to create something impossible.
These projects work in reverse from conventional performance processes. Normally, we start with a story and find ways for the community to hear that story. At the beginning of these projects, there is no story. It emerges from multiple meetings and conversations from the experts of the city, its people. And overwhelmingly, the people of Logan wanted the opportunity to change the narrative of their city. Regardless of the economic and social challenges of the city, it was their place and their lives and their stories. They felt that stories of violence, intolerance and generational poverty were swamping the real story of their city. In the day-to-day flow of life in Logan, people showed respect and tolerance, none more so than for new arrivals in the city of which there are many. They were proud of the dynamism and diversity of Logan. They wanted the rest of the world to know that they were hopeful for their city and their future, that their young people were joyous, ambitious and culturally strong. It was the importance of this story to the city that brought together singers and dancers from seniors’ groups across the city, children and young people from over 20 schools to sing and dance, go karts from the local raceway, enough musicians to build a 70-piece orchestra, 4 different choirs, fire twirlers and a gamelan orchestra. It was this story that ensured the construction of an 80-metre stage on the side of a football field. And it was this story that brought over 15,000 people to the performances. It was this ambition that brought SBS to the city to tellingly document the journey of project.
They brought the best of themselves and the city. And we, the creatives, had to bring our best game as well. Nothing else would have sufficed. It was an amazing, exhausting and joyful experience.
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