2 March 2020

Lost your summer? Music can help

| Marilyn Chalkley
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Roomful of Teeth

Roomful of Teeth will be in Canberra on 4 March. Photo: Supplied.

As the year moves on, Canberrans are getting back to a normal life, but one shadowed by the memory of a burnt summer, blackened bush and twisted iron, friends and family who have lost houses and properties and, sadly, even lives.

How do we recover? How do we help our friends and family recover? One way is with music – the great healer.

It’s easy to forget how music can help us emotionally and transport us to better places.

Paul Kelly’s haunting lullaby ‘Sleep Australia Sleep’ is immediately relevant to anyone who has been through the fires, although its pointed irony may mean you don’t get to relax much, although singing along to it can be cathartic, as the pub choir proved when it was launched in late January.

Not surprisingly, researchers have found that relaxing music like a bit of Mozart can help the listener deal with stress (it’s best to leave the heavy metal for other occasions). I can recommend Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. The second movement was my mother’s favourite piece of music. We played it at her funeral and it still makes me cry, but the beauty of music is the memories they create and evoke are your own.

The Canberra International Music Festival is coming up for 10 glorious Autumn days in May with a huge diversity of music, from jazz, music theatre, rap and folk to Beethoven, great choral works, piano and lots of singing. The whole Festival is focussed on ‘Giving Voice’.

Some pre-festival events in March mean you can get to hear some live music and lose yourself for a while.

The first is all about pure voice. A Roomful of Teeth is a Grammy award-winning group of singers from New York who will perform on Wednesday (4 March) at The Street as part of a world tour.

It’s no overstatement to call A Roomful of Teeth a remarkable and unmissable ensemble. It has to be seen (and heard) to be believed. Having absorbed the techniques of Tuvan throat singing as well as yodelling, Broadway belt and Death Metal, they are the ultimate vocalists: eight magnificent voices singing perfect a cappella for the 21st century – not to be missed. Learn more at The Street.

Next up is a lazy Sunday afternoon in the Walcott Gardens in Red Hill on 8 March, where you can hear jazz, voice and piano. Buy a drink and wander around the gorgeous garden, listen and relax.

Check out the Canberra International Music Festival to find out what appeals to you – you can even audition some of the works on the website or YouTube. The tickets sell fast at this time of year so it’s worth getting in early, and the music you hear may well help you feel better about our lost summer.

Marilyn Chalkley is a freelance writer and works for the CIMF.

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