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WAO Playlist Series XIX Curated by Matt Reuben James Ward

To coincide with Father's Day and our upcoming family production of The Nightingale, Director Matt Reuben James Ward has curated our latest playlist where he looks back on songs and musical numbers that remind him of his childhood, his experience as a father and looks at music that has helped him rediscover his inner child as he prepares for The Nightingale (3-4 October at His Majesty's Theatre). 

"My world at the moment consists of directing and designing 'The Nightingale', a multitude of other musical projects across the state, family life and landscaping a back garden! Pulling a playlist together through my varied freelance schedule has landed me with a curious assortment of operatic and instrumental numbers – you’ll discover I enjoy the obscure. From overtures about the ocean to arias imitating bird song, I hope discovering some new and unique music soothes your soul and awakens your imagination.

I should also write, Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and to fathers old, new and to the memory of those passed. In a way, this playlist is a reflection of my childhood (not that I knew any of this music as a kid), but more in the thematic sense. It was a childhood by the seaside, playing in the bush, being taught about nature and animals and hiking the rugged and ever-changing Great Southern coastline. Some of this music brings personal memories to mind - and that makes me happy.For those dads with young children, like me, I’ve partnered a few kid’s activities with musical numbers. Please take this as an opportunity to share a musical moment together, this is your chance to create memories. Happy Father's Day." - Matt Reuben James Ward

Prologue to Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten 

Memory: Camping at the beach and waking up to a fresh new day by the sea. For me, Britten's sea interludes evoke memories of both the serenity and grandeur of the ocean. Ad there's no better coastline than here in WA. 

Kids Activity: Listen to the music and use your fingers to create the shapes of the waves. Can you move all your fingers to create rippling waves moving across the ocean? 

L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato(The Cheerful, the Thoughtful, and the Moderate Man) by George Frederic Handel based on poetry by John Milton 

First, and chief, on golden wing,
The cherub Contemplation bring;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of night.

 Sweet bird, that shun'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among,
I woo to hear thy even-song.
Or, missing thee, I walk unseen,
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wand'ring moon
Riding near her highest noon.
Sweet bird. . . 

 John Milton

Kangaroos, part VI from Le carnaval des animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) by Camille Saint-Saëns

A playful vignette-based one of our national symbols: the kangaroo. Do you think French composer Saint-Saëns had ever seen a kangaroo in person?

Kid's activity: Follow the sound of the kangaroo in the music and hop along. Be careful to copy the speed and size of hopping! 

Der fliegende Holländer overture (The Flying Dutchman) by Richard Wagner

Back to the mysterious ocean with a story about a Ghost Ship. While the crew sleep a ghostly vessel appears astern and is dashed against their ship. Grappling irons hold the two ships together. Invisible hands furl the sails while a man of pale aspect, dressed in black, with a thick black beard steps ashore…

Kid’s activity: Can you finish the story? Listen to the music and decide what happens next.  

The Swan, part XIII from Le carnaval des animaux (The Carnival of the Animals) by Camille Saint-Saëns

Memory: Family picnics by the Swan River, the black swans float by.

Kid’s activity: Use your arm to create the neck of a swan. How gracefully can your swan dance to the music?

Duo miaulé (Cat Duet) from L'enfant et les sortilèges by Maurice Ravel

Opera singers singing like cats! How bizarre. This one is for the kids.

Kid’s activity: Obviously, you’ll want to sing along!

La gallina (the Hen) From Gli uccelli (The Birds)by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi

Memory: Looking after our hens and ducks as a kid in Katanning, and now nagging our little kids to do the same with our four chickens.

Les oiseaux dans la charmille from the opéra fantastique, Les contes d'Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann), by Jacques Offenbach 

A mechanical doll sings one of the opera's most famous arias "Les Oiseaux Dans La Charmille" (The birds in the arbour). Most people refer to this aria as “The Doll Aria". During the aria her spring runs-down and needs to be wound-up. As I’m currently directing The Nightingale, I’m reminded of this wonderful mechanical character.

Kid’s activity: Can you pretend to be a dancing wind-up doll? Follow the music and get your dad to wind you up when your spring runs out.

Make Our Garden Grow from Candide by Leonard Bernstein

Memories: My Nan showing me all the wonderful plants she grows in her garden. Virgin Australian bushland in its delicate yet harsh natural beauty. Growing vegetables with my kids.

Il est bon, l'enfant, il est sage (He is good, the child, he is good) from L'enfant et les sortilèges(The Enchanted Child) by Maurice Ravel 

All is well that ends well. No matter what mistakes we make as children or parents, we should always strive to make amends, apologise, repair and build.

What we sow today, we reap tomorrow.