Musicians in ‘Small Island Big Song’ film highlight climate challenges in free stream April 23–30

“In our globalized, computerized world, music can bring us awareness of who we are, our history and our values, and our connection to nature. I bring what my grandfather poured into me,” said Rapa Nui-based musician Yoyo Tuki.

More than 100 artists representing 16 island nations in the Pacific and Indian oceans unite for the musical cinematographic event “Small Island Big Song: An Oceanic Songline.”

Watch the event beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 23. It will be available for streaming until 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 30. Visit film for more information.

Contributions from the members of the Center for the Performing Arts and a grant from the University Park Student Fee Board help make the program free of charge.

The program is part of the Center for the Performing Arts 2020–2021 “Up Close and Virtual” season. The presentation also is part of the “The Reflection Project,” funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Small Island Big Song” is a multiplatform project founded by Taiwanese producer BaoBao Chen and Australian music producer Tim Cole. They spent more than three years documenting artists in communities at the forefront of the climate crisis.

Watch a trailer for the video presentation.

In addition to raising awareness of environmental issues facing island nations, the project explores a migration theory that seeks to establish musical links between cultures and accentuates similarities in regional instruments, voices and rhythm. More than 100 musicians represent waterfront countries facing climate-related challenges, including Madagascar, Borneo, Tahiti, Bali, Guam, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Taiwan.

Today’s popular music tells us, this is how the world is. It is not, it does not connect us, it doesn’t conserve our place.”
— Charles Maimarosia, musician-archivist

The live touring production of “Small Island Big Song,” including an artist residency, is scheduled for the center’s spring 2022 season.

Related Earth Day engagement event

The Center for the Performing Arts and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute will partner to host two of the artists featured in “Small Island Big Song: An Oceanic Songline” in an Earth Day panel discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 22. The free public event will be available via the Zoom conferencing app and will be followed by an open Q&A and short performances by the artists.

Visit panel discussion to register and for more information.

Spoken-word artist Selina Leem, of the Marshall Islands, and musician-archivist Charles Maimarosia, of the Solomon Islands, will discuss ocean conservation, environmental justice and the consequences of climate change, and the role the arts can play in creating change.

Maimarosia is the frontman of pan-pipe band Narasirato. The indigenous music group formed by fishermen and farmers has found success with well-received performances at music festivals worldwide, including Roskilde Festival, Fuji Rock and Glastonbury.

“Today’s popular music tells us, this is how the world is. It is not, it does not connect us, it doesn’t conserve our place,” Maimarosia said.

Geisinger and Northwest provide support for virtual presentations by the Center for the Performing Arts.

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