In 2014, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra engaged South Australian Composer, Mark Simeon Ferguson, to compose a 30 minute work based upon the Australian children’s book, The Bush Concert, written and illustrated by New South Wales author, Helga Visser. Excitingly, the response to The Bush Concert is so positive that the work, originally scored for eight orchestral instruments, is now having a full orchestration developed, co-commissioned by Symphony Services - on behalf of all Australian network orchestras - to premiere in 2017.
Ferguson’s imaginative score brings to life the story of a community of birds suffering from a drought, but who decide to stage a concert to bring joy and cheer to their community. The performance that unfolds incorporates music and actions of clowns, Spanish dancers, fireworks, acrobats, magpies, galahs and brush turkeys. Children participate through song and dance, including a performance as the bush choir, where the children sing about the many different types of Australian gum trees. Bird calls performed by the instruments feature intricately throughout the score, reflecting the 71 different native birds being featured in the book's illustrations.
ASO first took this work to schools in 2015, with central themes of community, sustainability and the importance of The Arts in everyday life, this highly participatory touring performance is designed to complement primary school Performing Arts and Literacy. The Bush Concert is an immersive unit of engaging and highly creative study covering all five arts subjects, and other cross-curricular links.To ensure the learning outcomes are fully supported the ASO also createdin-depth learning resource material to accompany the project as well as providing participating teachers a professional development workshop.
With a focus on placing young people at the centre of the creative and music-making process, the ASO’s Learning Program provides access to high quality, innovative and accessible learning experiences, workshops and participatory performances in both the community and school setting.