about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

harp and garden



Who knew that the Royal Botanic Garden in Melbourne had a resident musician, let alone a harpist? I only found out recently. Michael Johnson's job is to compose music inspired by the Garden, and give performances in the Garden.

Michael had the privilege of living in the Garden for two years. In the performance I went to, he told the audience how during this period he would regularly get up at dawn, go down to a spot near the Lake and play his harp. Every day a black swan would waddle up, settle down next to him, put its head under its wing and go to sleep as he played. This went on for about a year.

Then one day the swan didn't appear. Michael was upset. He wandered if the swan had been taken by one of the foxes that hunted in the gardens at night. After a few weeks, the swan re-appeared - accompanied by his mate and baby cygnets! The entire swan family sat down next to him, tucked their heads under their wings and went to sleep as he played. Inspired by this, he wrote a piece of music and named it Swan.

I couldn't find a video of Swan, but here is a video of Michael playing a piece called Forest.


19 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. OK, for people in Melb we can see the real thing!

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  2. what an amazing story. Those swans must miss him.

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    1. it must have been hard for him to leave, too.

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  3. That is such a beautiful story and the music is beautiful too.

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    1. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post, Pauline.

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  4. Thank you! I enjoyed the swan story and the music very much. I think it must be wonderful to live in such a place and to have a job creating music about it.

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    1. I believe he just loves his job, he is very enthusiastic.

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  5. Oh, that is so wonderful! I think I will end my evening on that note, and have sweet dreams thinking about this lovely story and hearing the harpist play beautiful music. Thanks, Sue, for sharing everything about this post. :)

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    1. hope you slept well and had beautiful dreams, Beth.

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  6. Wonderful story and something just seems to gel regarding swans and harps.

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    1. I suppose it really sounds a bit like a fairy story.

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  7. Unfortunately the only black swans I have ever known which were gifted to the City of Manchester back in the 1960's were killed by vandals, the exact opposite of your wonderful story.

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    1. How awful, Rick, well at least this story provides a counter balance to the violence.

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  8. How delightful that your botanical garden has a harpist. Wonderful story about the black swan. Imagine being able to LIVE in a botanical garden for two years and never having to WEED?

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    1. you are so funny, Linda ... I never thought of that.

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  9. What a lovely, delightful story. It is so nice to still have something like this actually happening in Australia, where economic rationalism and endless budget cuts seem to have taken a toll on everything in the public space.

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    1. I agree, Matt, it is extremely irrational economically to pay a man to play a harp. Sounds more like the Renaissance than today.

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  10. Thank you to everyone here on this Blog for their kind words and reflections.
    I do indeed love my job and enjoy the interaction with the natural world and how it inspires new compositions on my harp .
    Please feel free to come and join me at the gardens or any of the concerts . Many warm wishes. Michael Johnson
    http://www.michaeljohnson.com.au/concerts.php

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