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Small Island Big Song brings message of unity, urgency around climate change to Scottsdale
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Small Island Big Song will unite Indigenous musicians from across the Pacific and Indian Oceans Feb. 18 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
Eight musicians from different parts of the world will perform together, backed by projected video shot over three years and across 16 island nations. The message that Small Island Big Song wants to share is that before the written word, songs held the power to share cultural knowledge, and it wants to pass those songs on before they are lost.
Small Island Big Song has toured 15 countries across four continents. It has become a feature of their concerts for encores to spontaneously erupt into a shared celebration, with instruments, voices, and dancing bodies rising from the seats.
“This event is more than an incredible celebration of island music for world music fans,” said Abbey Messmer, programming director at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. “Yes, the show features a beautiful mix of musicians from New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, Madagascar, Solomon Islands, Mauritius, Marshall Islands and Papa New Guinea, but the project also shows the work of filmmakers, oceanographers, scientists and poets who are making an impact on climate change. As an institution, it’s important for us to uplift Indigenous voices, and with this project we learn about the environmental challenges that Pacific and Indian Ocean islanders face, and hopefully get inspired to live more sustainably.”
Small Island Big Song uses a variety of platforms to convey their message, including an award-winning album and documentary, a live concert, and an outreach program.
On Feb. 17, the day before the main performance, Small Island Big Song will hold a free panel discussion on how artists can address the climate crisis. Diandra Adamczyk, senior programming coordinator for Scottsdale Arts, notes that this production will be a clear example of how art and activism can intersect, as the discussion of climate change is urgent.
The panel discussion will feature three members of Small Island Big Song: Emlyn, a multi-instrumentalist and singer from Mauritius; Putad, an Amis multi-instrumentalist and singer from Taiwan; and Selina Leem, a spoken-word artist from the Marshall Islands. They will be joined by Gila River Indian Community-based activist Napoleon Marrietta and a local moderator.
Another option for engagement is an interactive Memory Lounge performance facilitated by Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, where musicians from Small Island Big Song will introduce participants to unusual instruments, teach about the music and culture of Pacific Islanders and perform. Memory Lounge is a program that aims to engage and energize people with mild to moderate memory loss and their care partners through high-quality art experiences.
“We are delighted about this offering, featuring Small Island Big Song, as participants will meet the musicians in an intimate, relaxed setting and become part of the music through singing and exploring instruments from different cultures,” said Laura Hales, curator of learning and innovation for Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. “It is a rare treat that will certainly help create wonderful new memories for all involved.”
All three events will be held at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd St., Scottsdale, Arizona. The concert begins at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18. Tickets start at $24 or pay what you can. The free panel discussion, Climate Crisis: Our Response As Artists, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17. And the Memory Lounge event is at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18.
For information on the main performance and the panel discussion, visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/events or call 480-499-TKTS (8587). For information about the Memory Lounge event, visit ScottsdaleArtsLearning.org/events.
All guests age 12 and older must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test, taken within 72 hours of the performance date, along with photo ID to attend performances. As an alternative, guests may provide proof of full vaccination. Masks are highly encouraged to protect artists, staff and patrons. For full health and safety protocols, visit ScottsdalePerformingArts.org/covid-19-response.
Sponsors for Small Island Big Song include Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and Western States. Memory Lounge sponsors include the Arizona Republic and Blue Cross Blue Shield.