Colours of Home invites students into the vibrant world of oboist Celia Craig, who experiences Chromesthesia - where sound evokes an involuntary experience of colour. Celia joins forces with guitarist Caspar Hawksley to deepen students’ understanding of music through colour and mood.
This exciting combination features a rich musical palette inspired by landscapes and personal connections to place, giving students the tools to create music based on their own unique worldview. Before you book them for your school in 2022, get to know more about Celia and Caspar, their musical pathway to Musica Viva In Schools, their passion for music education, and more.
Tell us about your performance. How has the development process been for the group?
Caspar: The process of curating the works for this program has been great fun! Celia, the producers and myself have worked hard to create a concert that is a joy to play, while also being digestible and educational for the audience.
Celia: We’ve had a lot of fun developing our duo through improvisation and through creating the resources for schools- basically, it was all fun!!
What can teachers and students expect, and what is your favourite part of the show?
Caspar: They can expect a program jam packed with a wide variety of works, with strong thematic links between the music and the educational content. My favorite part of the show is a short improvising workshop that we do with the children.
Celia: Expect to enjoy! It’s such a fun project with lovely music. I think working with Will Kepa and learning about his cultural heritage was a highlight. For me the chance to describe synaesthesia was challenging but also rewarding. I loved being able to draw and use colour to respond to the music- I hope children do too!
Can you touch on the name of your ensemble and the meaning behind it?
Caspar: Colours of Home is a title that outlines the core themes of this project. Specifically, how art can connect to our sense of connection with locations and emotions, and how we can express that in our own music.
Celia: Nice from Caspar! Because Synaesthesia is linked to intense emotions like euphoria, and is triggered by harmony and flow, I wanted to describe the feeling of being SAFE at home in your home key, that moment when you return home- the feeling that a cadence (ending) gives me- like putting down your bags and sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea: home. We wanted to explore this link with each piece or music having a ‘home’ colour, while inviting the childrens’ repsonses to drawing their own homes and landscapes which would visually illustrate Home. It’s like seeing into others minds too and helps empathise with people through music. I feel that any connections we can make with music/feelings/mental health/safety/home all very valuable at this point in history and so I really feel as if this is a very worthwhile- and enjoyable- project right now.
Tell us about the music you will be performing in your show. Who composed the music and what will it sound like?
Caspar: There is a wide range of music in this show. The majority of these works are written by Australian composers, (sAlly Whitwell, Will Kepa and myself), and all explore themes of storytelling and emotional expression through music. Each of the pieces has a special connection to a location or journey that the composer is strongly connected to.
Celia: Caspar’s got it there.
Celia, can you tell us about your history with Musica Viva?
Celia: Yes! When I first came to Australia and lived in the Blue Mountains, in 2007 our kids were at primary and Musica Viva came to us with a really cool South American rep show (someone might be able to tell me what it was!?). I really enjoyed because it was delivered by real musicians, that was a distinctive thing that sets MVIS apart. They played with passion/conviction/groove and it was really fun, as well as learning a lot. There was a lot of latin rhythms and percussion involved. My son was hooked- he is now a professional drummer- is this related? Might be!!
Outside of MVIS, what do yourself and Caspar get up to musically?
Caspar: I work as a performing guitarist and composer in and around the Adelaide scene. My main focus is on jazz and free improvised music, as well as composing for large ensembles.
Celia: I run a record company! Multimedia production company (we put on live concerts and make videos as well as CDs)- here is some of our work.
I also play the oboe in concerts- all chamber or baroque music now- after 30 years in orchestras and touring the globe, I love that intimacy and the smaller audience: it’s very rewarding to see people’s faces when you play. I’ve been appointed Resident Artist with the National Trust of South Australia so I’m trying lots of new stuff in their amazing buildings..At the moment I’m running a project with emerging Aboriginal photographer Finn Mellor creating 12 portraits as a response to Benjamin Britten’s solo oboe masterpiece Metamorphoses- to be presented in Z Ward- the former mental asylum- huge acoustic and dramatic spaces- good to fill this building with the arts to soften its cold history.
Do yourself and Caspar have any other talents or hobbies outside of music you both enjoy?
Caspar: I enjoy playing chess, photography and rock climbing.
Celia: Ditto photography- drawing and cycling.
The past 2-years have been very difficult with COVID-19. What do you do to keep creative and musical when faced with lockdowns?
Caspar: The main thing I have done is to try and maintain a consistent output of compositions and recordings, as well as ensuring that I find and take as many opportunities as possible to perform with other musicians. Talking about my work with other musicians has also been extremely important in maintaining motivation, as we can share in our passion for the arts.
Celia: Developing online experiences because video/film is something I've always wanted to do and we all spend hours staring at a screen anyway. Also the record company: editing is a really focussed process to be done in the studio, so lockdown kind of helps.
In 2020, MVIS developed an online performance option as a result of the COVID restrictions. What are some of the advantages/benefits of the online experience in your view?
Caspar: Online learning is complex. It has the obvious limitations of a lack of in-person interaction, making certain more physical learning experiences far more difficult. However, during covid, we have been very lucky to have this resource, as it is far superior to the alternative - a halt in our education system. Online learning also does have several advantages, primarily that of accessibility. Students living in remote locations, or dealing with illness keeping them at home, can continue to learn uninterrupted by their circumstances. As well as this, if a student misses a lesson, they can watch the recording of the class later on. This is a great resource for students who might be struggling with motivation or wanting to work at their own pace.
Celia: We need to be careful about travelling in and out of vulnerable communities (this includes everywhere now) so it is vital to adapt and creative thinkers know that to keep music education alive, we need to develop new ways of delivery. While online isn’t the same, it does have the advantage you can repeat it and also, consume in your own environment, also pause and rewind. It’s not the same but we have to move on and there are some advantages too.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021 and beyond?
Caspar: I'm looking forward to Adelaide fringe (if it goes ahead). Last year, after several months of very limited opportunities to perform, the fringe was like a breath of fresh air, giving artists the opportunity to resume regular performances. If fringe this year is similar, it will be another great chance to have several months of musical fun!
Celia: I’m looking forward to being part of the Australian Women in Music Awards!! (I am a finalist in Excellence in Classical Music - v distinguished company.) It’s v exciting to meet other women and inspiring to hear their journeys.
It’s also very exciting to have new arts projects going- to develop things that are not orchestral- for example, designing musical events at South Australia’s founding Collingrove Homestead – history is one of my passions too.
Colours of Home will premiere their exciting performance in 2022. View their touring schedule and book them for your school here.