Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dawn Chorus

Our setting is Clifton Gardens, a tiny and very picturesque non-beach on Sydney's North Shore. We are here at the odd hour of 5 AM. And there are at least 5 or 6 hundred others. Everyone's here for a Sydney Festival event. The Dawn Chorus is a series of performances by the Sydney Philharmonic Choir at four of Sydney's beaches at dawn. The scene is strikingly beautiful: the crowd sits facing the water, spread out on the sand in silence; there's a hint of colour on the horizon; the harmonies drift over - they're Latin-ish and compliment the view, the sound of lapping water, barely-awake gulls etc perfectly. All is at peace. And then the dawn breaks... and it's magic... the sky is nothing if not glorious. Everyone's locked into the experience... with the possible exception of the 13 yr old in the superman tee and red pants who preferred to curl up with eyes closed and ipod fixedly excluding him from the goings-on.

Admittedly things could have been better. Not realising how popular the event was, we landed up "only" 20 mins prior to commencement. Which means we couldn't quite latch onto the subtler pieces. We could've taken a creative leaf out of some of the others' books and got into the water to gently backstroke up to where the choir was bunched up. Or row (row, row?) our boat closer to the action. But given that I own neither a boat nor any ability to swim, maybe I'll just show up earlier next year.


alex walter said...

Hi Dylan,
What a great description of the event. I am in the choir and we are all absolutely gobsmacked at the response from the unexpectedly large audiences. The setting of Clifton Gardens is sublime and the whole experience has been amazing. The weather was the best so far as well. Hard though it has been to get up at 3.45am, it is, however, a wonderful way to start the day! Breakfast at "Ripples" followed by a swim in Chowder Bay just added to the magic.


Alex Walter

Dylan said...


Congratulations on and thank you for a splendid performance. I'll have you and your mates know that I've been spreading the word and getting people to get their sleepy butts to Bondi for the last installment (or at least pencil it in next year).

FYI: we're planning to sleep on the beach next year! Looking forward to it already. Good show!