In December 2015, I was randomly surfing the internet when I came across a couple of unsettling articles about mental health in my hometown of Christchurch. At that time, I had already begun to work out the concepts of The Mobilised Musician based on lessons from past successes and failures alike. Here, I realised, was the perfect opportunity to put my ideas to the test. I went through piles and piles of paper writing down ideas - good and bad, big and small - and after a few weeks of concentrated imagination, I came up with the idea for the Mobilised Musician 2016 project.
This project is a way of using the skills and experience that I have, to contribute to the growth of my hometown by encouraging conversation and equipping young musicians with the mindset and tools to act on their concerns with their own unique skills and experience. Through musical and educational work, I am trying to invest in the young people of Christchurch in the hope that we will together be able to create a better future for our home.
WHAT IS 'THE MOBILISED MUSICIAN'?
The mobilised musician finds purpose.
The mobilised musician creates relevance.
The mobilised musician connects.
'The Mobilised Musician' is a set of concepts that I have developed to help musicians with creating experiences that are meaningful to themselves as well as their audience. The three main concepts are purpose, relevance and connection. The aim is for musical
engagement to bring musicians and audiences together through a shared interest in the
ideas, stories and experiences presented.
WHAT IS THE 2016 PROJECT?
The purpose of the project is both as a demonstration of the Mobilised Musician concepts and an experiment in applying those concepts at a high level, so that they can be improved for future projects undertaken by myself or others.
The frame of relevance used in this project is the city of Christchurch, its experience of
seismic activity and its recovery from the damage sustained in those events. Through the experiences of composition, performance and educational workshops, a diverse group of participants connect to my work as a musician. My hope is that through this work, they are also able to connect to each other.
'The Mobilised Musician' 2016 Project is made up of 4 parts - a composition stage, an education stage, a performance stage and an evaluation/documentation stage. Each of these stages puts in practice the basic concepts of the Mobilised Musician - purpose, relevance and connection.
In Stage 1, I compose a new work to be performed as part of the project, as my own artistic response to the city's mental and emotional recovery. First, I wrote 5 questions that would reveal something about a musician's experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes:
1. "How did you first experience earthquakes in Christchurch?"
2. "How is the life that you are currently living affected by these events?"
3. "How is your art affected by your experience of these events?"
4. "Do you have a response to the current mental health situation in Christchurch?"
5. "What part do you imagine music could play in the earthquake recovery effort?"
7 musicians from Christchurch, who are now based elsewhere, agreed to record their responses to those questions, which I edited into a tape. The piece, titled 'Our Letters Home', is a cycle of 5 movements, each based on one of the questions posed, which my band will use to improvise their personal response against the tape.
In Stage 2, the education stage, I will be delivering workshops on 'The Mobilised Musician' to high school music classes. The University of Canterbury's School of Music have agreed to support and get involved with this endeavour, and I'm really looking forward to working with them. My aim is for students who are inclined to pursue music to see that their passion is also a way that they can be a part of Christchurch's recovery, the advancement of NZ's society and the future of the planet - or anything else they dare to imagine.
Stage 3 is the performance of 'Our Letters Home' at Orange Studio. We'll be doing a live recording there to document the piece and I'm hoping that this will help me to get it played at other festivals and venues across the world, which will help to spread the story of Christchurch and perhaps even connect other travelers to their hometown. I'll be playing with Myele Manzanza and Steve Barry, two of my favourite musical voices from New Zealand.
The entire project has been planned as a demonstration, documentation and evaluation of the 'Mobilised Musician' concepts. In Stage 4, I'll be seeking feedback on every stage of the project and documenting it. This will allow me to critically develop my concepts further. In this stage, my findings will be documented in a report, which will be available from this website.
The documentation will allow other artists who are interested in similar work, whether it is specifically in response to Christchurch or in a different context, to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes. My aim is to make this conversation as public and accessible as possible so that musicians around the world will feel empowered to contribute to the world around them.
'The Mobilised Musician' is a tool for connecting musical work to the things that we care about. Christchurch, my home town, is something that I personally care about. I hope that through this project, I will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the lives of Christchurch's people, as well as the city's overall progress.