How did the idea for this program evolve?
The concept for Where Song Beganemerged immediately after reading Tim Low’s extraordinary book of the same name. In the book, Tim describes the Australian origins and evolutionary significance of the song bird species. As if this wasn’t already enough to make for a fascinating read, he also poses the idea of Australia being home to the world’s first song, the first utterances of what we humans might consider to be music. As soon as I finished reading the book, I knew I had to turn this story and these ideas into a performance piece.
What did you learn from reading Tim Low’s book?
So many fascinating things! First and foremost of course that Australia had the world’s first songbirds. The majority of the world’s birds, in fact, have ancestors from Australia. I also learnt more amusing facts, such as that the magpie has been nominated as the most serious suburban avian menace in the world, that many parrots have the same, if not higher, levels of intelligence than apes, dolphins and elephants, and that bellbirds have become expert farmers of psyllids (lerps). And the list goes on!