During the development of the SongBird Oratorio, we were approached by the parent's committee from Captain George Cooke Elementary School in Vancouver. They were interested in linking their school's programming with the SongBird project.
The school is located on the slope of land down to the Fraser River, one of the largest river estuaries in the Americas with some of the last remaining intact coastal wetland habitat. Everett Crowley Park is located on an old landfill site, reclaimed by the local community, close by the school.
In a parallel process to that of the composers of the SongBird Arias, grade 6 & 7 students were taken out on led walks through the park, with it's population of estuary birds, in order to listen to birdsong. They then worked with composer Mark Parlett to compose their own piece in response to this birdsong and habitat. The completed work was performed by the students at the 2000 Dawn Chorus Celebration in Vancouver.
Many students commented that they had never before been to the park, although it was "right next door" - they usually went to the mall. The process of working with the birdsong, coupled with complementary projects, engaged the students with a new awareness of a place-community and the wild others they shared it with.
|composer Mark Parlett and students|
|photos, Beth Carruthers|