"Small Island, Big Song"
June 15, 2021
The musicians in Small Island, Big Song would tell you that the ocean does not divide their island homes. It connects them. In this inspiring multimedia concert confronting climate change, artists from Pacific and Indian Ocean nations unite to blend traditions and create music celebrating the ways we are all connected. The result is a breathtakingly beautiful sound made by those who sing for the seas.
Framed in a theatrical narrative amongst panoramic visuals of the artist’s homelands, the audience experiences a musical journey across the breadth and into the soul of the island nations, meeting an ancient seafaring ancestry and addressing the impacts of climate crisis head on.
Drawing on a roster of renowned first nation artists from across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the concert features musicians performing irresistible oceanic grooves to soulful island ballads. Combining music, spoken word, and AV projections featuring footage collected during a three-year film trip across 16 countries guided by the artists on their homelands, the work is inspiring and unforgettable.
Toured to 15 countries across four continents, over 170,000 audiences have seen Small Island, Big Song live since its premiere at SXSW 2018. It has become a feature of the concerts for encores to spontaneously erupt into a shared celebration, with instruments, voices, and dancing bodies rising from the seats.
Moving beyond the concert experience, Small Island, Big Song offers a variety of opportunities for students and audiences to investigate the environmental, political, social, and cultural contexts on our oceans’ islands. The multiplatform project was founded by Taiwanese producer BaoBao Chen and Australian music producer and filmmaker Tim Cole in 2015. The two have been recording and filming with over 100 musicians in nature across the island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Small Island, Big Song explores the cultural connections between the descendants of the seafarers of the Pacific and Indian Oceans through the Austronesian migration, working with artists who have made a choice to maintain the cultural voice of their people, to sing in the language, and to play the instruments of their land. These unique lineages mixed with their diverse contemporary styles — roots-reggae, beats, grunge, R&B, folk, and spoken word — establish a contemporary musical dialogue between cultures as far afield as Madagascar, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Taiwan, Mauritius, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Support for this performance is provided by the Charles and Dorothy Lambert Endowment for the Arts.
This is the first performance of Small Island, Big Song at the Moss Arts Center.
This engagement of Small Island, Big Song is made possible through the ArtsCONNECT program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.