Where Song Began: a musical celebration of Australia's birds

Anthony Albrecht (cello) and Simone Slattery (violin)
Anthony Albrecht (cello) and Simone Slattery (violin)

Two of Australia's most adventurous classical musicians, Simone Slattery and Anthony Albrecht, will be in Bellingen on Tuesday April 30 to perform their acclaimed multimedia show telling the story of the evolution of song.

'Where Song Began' was inspired by leading ornithologist Tim Low's award-winning book of the same name, which was published in 2014.

Low argues that the world's songbirds evolved right here, in eastern Gondwana, before spreading across the world and maintains that our birds are as exceptional and marvellous as our marsupial mammals.

Such is their evolutionary significance, Low writes, that "one may ask whether human music would have reached the heights it has, had the first songbird not sung in an Australian rainforest".

The show features visual projections and an immersive soundscape, and the audience experience has been described as "like being sung to by the country".

Cellist Anthony Albrecht stressed that the show is for everyone, not just classical music buffs.

"We've created the project to have a really wide appeal," Anthony said. "There's music spanning 300 years, and not all of it is classical.

"Especially in Bellingen, where there's a strong environmental aspect to the community, this show is definitely for anyone who loves nature and particularly birds.

"The combination of the music and the projected visuals and the soundscape make it really immersive."

After reading Low's book in 2017, violinist Simone Slattery decided such a beautiful story needed to be turned into a show.

Anthony came on board later that year and the pair developed it together.

It premiered at a private performance in Melbourne and since then has travelled widely.

"We've done further development work in New York and London and we've played over 30 regional concerts in Australia - NSW, WA, South Australia and most recently a tour in Tasmania," Anthony said.

"People concerned about our relationship with the Earth are finding it very moving, because we're focusing on the beautiful aspects of birds and their habitat and our musical relationship with them, as opposed to land clearing or something like that.

"But the implication is we do have a lot to lose."

The performance goes for 60 minutes including a 10-minute Q&A and will be held at St Margaret's Church Hall Bellingen from 7.30pm on Tuesday April 30.

Adults $30, Concession $25, U18 $5, with $1 from every ticket being donated to Birdlife Australia or a related conservation cause.

For tickets and info visit www.wheresongbegan.com

About the performers: Simone Slattery was recently awarded a PhD in Music Performance from the University of Adelaide and performs regularly with Australia's finest ensembles. Anthony Albrecht is an Australian graduate of The Juilliard School's Historical Performance program and is now based in London.