The Year 12 Music students attended the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s (QSO) performance of the soundtrack to David Attenborough and the BBC’s Planet Earth II documentary at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre last week. The orchestra played live to the breathtaking imagery projected to a monstrous screen behind the orchestra. Both the music and the imagery were, in the true sense of the word, awesome. The imagery was shot across 40 different countries, with shooting days totalling 2,089 days (or 5.7 years), and Hans Zimmer’s score was breathtaking in its ability to further draw us into the scene. If you can walk away from this untouched, then I’m convinced you are not human! We were lucky enough to get upgraded to the second row too! There were times when we were so engrossed in the majesty of the images, and so perfectly aligned and supportive were the orchestra, that we forgot that we were seeing the two parts weaved together in such perfect harmony! It was a fantastic night, with a fantastic group of students.
The show perfectly complemented the focus topic that the students have been studying in class – and this was all in place well before we even became aware of the QSO performance! Talk about great timing and a little luck! Our unit, Earth Songs, is built upon the use of music in documentary films and it integrates the three dimensions of our study – musicology, composition and performance. In Term One, the students critiqued either the Planet Earth II Suite (from ‘Planet Earth II’) or Bloom (from another Attenborough/BBC documentary, ‘Blue Planet’) and authored a musicological essay identifying the thematic connections between sound and image. They then took these learnings into their compositional work this term, having been set the task to compose a work for a class-based ensemble to accompany one of the scenes from Planet Earth II. We are mid-way through the compositional element now, and there are some excellent responses developing. In the coming weeks we will be welcoming some film composers into the College to talk to the students and assist them develop their musical ideas. From this, the class will present their compositions just like the QSO did – in front of a big screen and accompanied by live music. The class will be playing their scores to the images to complete the cycle of investigation, to realisation and resolution of music ideas. This is certainly no small undertaking, but this group of students are well up to the challenge. More information on our Earth Songs presentation night to come.