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Manager, the Lillian Howell Project
A Friend in Me
Instrumental Conversations Between Friends
Encore: Tom Petty/Wailin’ Jennys, arr. Alice Chance
Chloe Chung Dreambox Collective Artistic Director, flute, piccolo, voice
Alice Chance accordion, voice, ukulele
Deepka Ratra voice, ukulele
Katarina Grobler piano, trumpet, voice
Sandra Brand visual artist
Welcome from the Artistic Director
Welcome to “A Space of One’s Own”, the first concert in our Dreambox Collective 2021 season, “A Friend of Mine”! I would like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of the land upon which we are performing today, and extend my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
The idea of a female-centric “space” has been an interesting concept to explore in this program, particularly in the context of current events. This is of course not a new issue, however – just look at Virginia Woolf’s influential essay on which today’s concert name is based, “A Room of One’s Own”, written almost 100 years ago.
Today’s concert supports the Lillian Howell Project (Lillian’s), a young women’s refuge. A member of our collective used to live at Lillian’s during their high school years, and they were a crucial part of their lives at that point. We were immediately taken by Lillian’s as it is the only specialist organisation of its kind in Sydney, supporting girls between the ages of 13-17 – an age which we, as early-career female artists, all remember as being a pivotal time in our lives. The generosity of the manager, Vivian Stavis, as well as the other caretakers, in showing us around earlier this year really stands out at the forefront in my mind. Lillian’s provided a physical shelter even for me as a visitor during the recent weekend of torrential rain, and I overstayed my visit for a few hours chatting with one of the girls. We are delighted that Vivian is joining us today to give a guest presentation.
It has been a challenging time for us all, both personally and as a start-up ensemble finding our feet, and I thank my fellow collective members for their passion and ongoing work culminating in this concert today. Crafting the 2021 season “A Friend of Mine” has been an ongoing journey of learning and connection. It feels surreal going into a very different second year – in which we are finally able to book a venue with more than half capacity! So we thank you for taking the time to support us and Lillian’s today, and hope you’ll stay tuned for the next two instalments in “A Friend of Mine” this year.
Dreambox Collective Artistic Director
Notes on the music
Miriam Hyde Marsh Birds
Marsh Birds (1949) and Evening Under The Hill (1968) are part of a collection of five pieces by Miriam Hyde written for flute and piano. Marsh Birds portrays the marsh country of outback Australia where birds lay and make their nests. The melody is shared between the flute and piano depicting the birds singing, flying over water and rising from the marshes in a flutter of wings.
Miriam Hyde Evening Under the Hill
Evening Under the Hill was originally composed for piano and violin, and dedicated to Alfred Kurtz. Miriam Hyde writes: “We were guests at a party in a beautiful garden at the foot of the Hills. As the sun was setting and shadows of the many tall gum trees were lengthening, ideas for this piece were already taking shape in my mind. There is a more restless middle section, rising to a climax, before the return of the main theme. Finally, peace returns, and the change to the major key tells us to look at the sky, where a few stars have come out, as the piano mounts to its last high, silvery chord.”
Deepka Ratra A Space of My Own
A Space of My Own is a story-telling piece; one that encompasses a narrator and two almost mythological characters named Darkness and Love. From the moment I decided the piece would be a vocal quartet, a very specific melody kept playing over and over in my mind, so I made it the backbone of the piece, allowing it to inspire the text and story.
Dreambox Collective was able to meet up with the organisers of the Lillian Howell Project. We talked about the work that they do, and even had a look around their space. The text for A Space of My Own was inspired by three facets: the social workers, the stories told by women who had been through Lillian’s, and also by a previous Dreambox Collective work, Nightlight. I enjoyed the main character in Nightlight so much, that as I wrote this piece, two of my own characters were formed.
The character of Love was inspired by the social workers. Throughout our time at Lillian’s, it kept striking me: the incredible compassion and commitment of the workers to the girls. The time they would give, the activities they would organise, and the incredible emotional support they provided. It seemed almost heroic, which is why it was so easy to create the angel character. I wanted to represent their positive influence.
Throughout the work we see the journey of Darkness meeting Love, and how Love cares for her. In the final moment, it was important to recognise that Darkness had not changed her own identity, but instead had fought against the odds to be stronger. As Darkness sings at the end, we realise that the rain never leaves, and despite this, she stands in it, feeling it, with full courage and character, shining through.
The titular moment of the piece came to me as I stood in the office at Lillian’s. We had been talking about how the girls could have a space of their own – their books, their posters – and suddenly a melody popped into my head. This became a featured moment in the piece.
Ultimately, A Space of My Own tells the story of how everything can be coloured by one’s struggle, and how a single act of care or kindness can change that. So, I hope that this piece might inspire people to give these acts to others, and also to accept that care and kindness when they may need it most.
Chloe Chung Pillars of Resilience
A Friend in Me
Instrumental Conversations Between Friends
Something we learned about at Lillian’s was the trauma-informed care work they do. Manager Vivian Stavis told us about the Six Core Strengths for Healthy Child Development by Dr. Bruce Perry, a psychiatrist specialising in childhood trauma. These strengths inform their model of care at Lillian’s, and are: Attachment (making relationships), Self-Regulation (containing impulses), Affiliation (being part of a group), Attunement (being aware of others), Tolerance (accepting difference) and Respect (finding value in differences).
Inspired to find out more, I did some research. Reflecting on these strengths in my own life, it struck me how they aligned with many of the skills we build as musicians, from wanting to listen empathetically and in detail to our fellow musicians, adapting to change, to knowing how to play “with” a group, and knowing when it is necessary or perhaps preferable to change up the “rhythm” of life at times.
I daydreamed about these Six Core Strengths until they began to blur together, imagining how one could practice this range of skills in action. An idea formed in my head – to create a set of games which drew upon these strengths, in which we could practice them in real time. I drew them up in graphic notation, imagining how in the moment of performance, it could actually be quite fun to witness musicians being given a considerable amount of free choice and creativity in a piece, perhaps with a comedic effect in mind – humour being a tool that I personally value in difficult times! Today, we present four games, each encompassing one of the Six Core Strengths: Self-Regulation (A Friend in Me), Respect (Brain Storm), Attunement (Instrumental Conversations Between Friends) and Affiliation (B Natural).
Alice Chance A Cutting: Cactus Flower
This piece was commissioned by Willoughby Symphony Orchestra for whom I’m the 2021 composer in residence. The idea was to take a cutting from an existing piece of mine and see what it blossomed into. It evolved to take on a different meaning, reflecting on the resilience of cacti and how many of us artists have had to survive a year with limited access to our nourishment, but how we continue to bloom.
Tom Petty/Wailin’ Jennys, arr. Alice Chance Wildflowers
As we walked out of Lillian’s after our tour, this song was stuck in my head. It speaks of wishing the very best for someone, telling them they deserve somewhere they feel free. I love the way the Wailin’ Jennys’ unique voices shine individually but shimmer equally in a blend and have enjoyed enabling ours to do the same with this arrangement.
Chloe Chung is an innovative cross-cultural flautist, playing Western classical flute and dizi (Chinese bamboo flute), teaching music, and collaborating with others to foster unexpected musical forms and connections throughout Sydney. Her passion for creativity, sustainability and education are central to her work as an active performer, teacher, and emerging creative director.
A passionate educator, Chloe is currently Academic Lecturer of Flute at AIM (Australian Institute of Music), and Sydney Conservatorium High School. At the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, she teaches dizi, performing regularly with the ensemble. In 2019, Chloe founded the Dreambox Collective.
Alice Chance is a sought-after composer, conductor, arranger, and lyricist. Her works are performed in concert halls (Sydney Opera House, The Kennedy Centre, City Recital Hall Angel Place) and cathedrals (St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney, Stanford Memorial Church California, Trinity Church Wall St New York City). But her music is also sung in auditoriums, paddocks and showers all around Australia.
Two-time finalist in the APRA Art Music Awards for Vocal/Choral Work of the Year, Alice has created music for groups including Ensemble Offspring, Gondwana Choirs, The Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, The Australia Piano Quartet, Ella Hooper, Sydney Children’s Choir, Moorambilla Voices, and Acacia String Quartet. Alice graduated with First Class Honours from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Australian born soprano of Indian heritage, Deepka Ratra is a passionate vocalist, actress and entrepreneur. Deepka takes an immense amount of joy in ensemble and concert work. She recently performed for a touring ABBA show, The Seven Sopranos, Justene William’s A Sonorous Body for the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, and for the Hans Zimmer Live Concert at Qudos Bank Arena; a particular highlight of her career.
Katarina Grobler is a young Australian pianist, who specialises in performing works by Australian, contemporary, and less well known composers. She is a multi-instrumentalist, and has experience performing in classical, jazz, contemporary and pop music styles. She is a passionate teacher with a full studio of young piano students and regularly accompanies instrumental students for AMEB exams. She holds a Bachelor of Music (Performance) from the Sydney Conservatorium, having studied under Dr Paul Rickard-Ford and Bernadette Harvey, and is currently studying privately with Gintaras Januševičius (Hanover, Germany).
From the moment she’d begun defacing her parent’s snowy white apartment walls as a 2 year old, Sandra Brand hasn't stopped creating. From digital paintings to scribbly sketches of her surroundings, she is constantly in awe of the power of art and wishes to share her passion with the world. Currently studying at the Julian Ashton Art School, Sandra was recently awarded the Brett Whiteley Scholarship, and has placed in the YIM Youth Arts and Writing Competition two years running. But by far her greatest achievement has been capturing the smiles and lost memories of everyday people around her.
Guest speaker: Vivian Stavis
Vivian Stavis is the manager at The Lillian Howell Project (Lillian’s). Lillian’s is a refuge, situated in the Inner West, providing medium to long-term, 24 hour supported housing for up to 11 young women and girls from the age of 13 to 17 years. Lillian's aim is to provide these young women, who are survivors of child sexual abuse, neglect, homelessness or family violence, with an inclusive, stable and safe environment.
Vivian has worked in Community Services for over 15 years, with experience working with Domestic Violence and Adult women survivors of child sexual abuse. She has a passion in working with and empowering women and children since the start of her career and is proud of her achievements, especially at Lillian’s, where she has been the manager for 7 years, and believes this is the best job she has ever had!
In 2015, Lillian’s was awarded the Edna Ryan Award for community activism and feminist activity within the community. In 2019, Vivian won Westfields Local Hero and Lillian’s was awarded $10,000 to provide workshops and social outings for the girls and in 2020 Lillian’s and Good Shepherd were awarded “Best Partnership award” for the collaboration to provide onsite counselling for the girls by Youth Action, youth worker awards.
A Space of My Own text
Making her way in the pouring rain,
her name is Darkness,
and she had lost her way,
and she said:
Into the night,
my spirit flies.
The distant stars
all fall quiet.
I did not know
that I was on my own,
how is it so
that I am on my own?
I’ve been to places
I cannot erase,
I hope these memories
will fade away.
I cannot bare
the things I’ve had to see,
do they not care at all,
do they not feel?
A space of my own,
what would that be like?
A space of my own,
wouldn’t that be nice?
She came floating across a cloud.
Angel, making a silver sound,
and she held me, taking all the pain away,
and she carried me to heaven and back again.
I’ve never known a love,
this type of love.
Wherev’ did you come from?
Oh, hello Love.
My name is Darkness,
I feel so afraid.
I hope that we may be
good friends some day.
Look at these mountains
I have had to climb.
Look at how I have walked
through all these fires.
How did you find me, Love?
How did you find
here in the dark,
this broken heart of mine?
Soaring down with her silver hair,
wand’ring to me with open hands,
then she held me, making all of me strong again,
and she called my name, and she said:
In this dark world, she said,
In this dark world,
I’ll be a friend to you,
I swear I will.
Are you enough? She asked,
Are you enough?
I hope that I have
taught you well enough.
Are you enough, my dear?
Are you enough?
Indeed you are my dear,
you are enough.
My name is Love,
and I will build a home
for you, and see you won’t
be on your own no more.
My name is Darkness,
I am not afraid.
The rain feels warmer,
and I have found my way.