‘Galway Bay is Calling’, an exciting collaboration between musicians and ocean literacy experts to inspire climate action among local communities

Music for Galway’s Cellissimo Festival and Galway Atlantaquaria join together in creativity and music, to spark community exploration of the local impacts of climate change on our seas and marine biodiversity and ignite positive and immediate action to address the climate emergency through a project set to take place over the next twelve months titled Galway Bay is Calling.

As record breaking temperatures grip the Earth and the alarming all-world impacts of climate change are thrown into sharp focus, Galway Bay is Calling is a timely new local initiative supported by the Creative Ireland Climate Action Spark Fund. The collaboration aspires to facilitating better understanding of human impacts on the oceans and developing engagement tools to positively influence behaviours and attitudes to climate change. The Galway-based creative project will pose individual and collective responses to the climate emergency through music and performance. Galway Bay is Calling aims to ignite immediate and sustainable action in addressing the climate emergency at community level.

Music for Galway, the classical music resource organisation, and Galway Atlantaquaria, Ireland’s largest native species aquarium, have secured investment through the Creative Ireland Climate Action Spark Fund to develop Galway Bay is Calling. This ambitious project will bring together marine conservationists, behavioural scientists and scores of professional and community musicians, singers, and performers from across Galway city and county in a unique creative collaboration.

On the announcement of the project funding, Music for Galway CEO Anna Lardi said “Galway Bay is Calling fits right into a central theme of Cellissimo, our international cello festival which takes place for the second time across Galway city and county from May 18 – 25 next year. As well as producing an exciting, accessible international music festival, we are approaching Cellissimo as a vehicle to creatively highlight the impacts of climate change, with a particular focus on the plight of climate migrants. We are thrilled to be working with our colleagues at Galway Atlantaquaria and ATU on Galway Bay is Calling, a collaboration that will bring together conservationists, scientists and both professional and community musicians and singers in Galway, with the aim of sensitising our collective to climate challenges and inspiring positive and immediate action, positioning agents for change at the heart of our local communities. We commend Ministers Catherine Martin and Eamon Ryan, their department colleagues and the Creative Ireland team, for developing this fantastic Creative Climate Action II: Agents of Change initiative, to support imaginative creative projects that build awareness around climate change and empower citizens to make meaningful behavioural changes.”

Dr Maria Vittoria Marra, Education and Public Engagement Officer at Galway Atlantaquaria said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with Music for Galway and ATU on this social art project which aims at harnessing the power of music and performance to increase the ocean literacy of local musicians, not only with a view to strengthen their awareness of our impacts upon the ocean and its impact upon us, but also to provide them with tools and approaches to transform ocean knowledge into behaviours and action that promote ocean sustainability.”

Galway Atlantaquaria is not new to initiatives that combine music and ocean literacy. In fact, in 2021 a first project carried out with the local group of amateur musicians Galway Ukers and songwriter Sean McGrath brought to the creation of a number of original songs about the ocean, two of which were featured at one of the online events of the European Maritime Day. The following year, Dr Marra and the same musicians worked with the local Claddagh National School in the co-development of a new song with the students of the 5th class, and this work contributed to earn the school the ‘Judges Special Award for Best Music and Podcast’ for their project: ‘Our Oceans, Alive and Healthy’, as part of the Marine Institute’s Explorers Ocean Champion Award. Finally, since 2022 Galway Atlantaquaria hosts music performances connected to the ocean in the premises of the aquarium, especially for events like Culture Night, which will happen again this year on the 22nd of September (the line-up of the musicians will be announced shortly).

The video of the original song co-developed by the students in Claddagh National School and the musicians who have collaborated with Galway Atlantaquaria since 2021. It combines drawings made by the same students and pictures from the day when children and musicians met to record the song together in the school’s recording studio.

Galway Bay is Calling will feature an exciting interactive series of ocean literacy workshops where participants will explore Galway’s coastline and marine life through beach combing and rock pooling, attending workshops, and contributing to discussion and debate on climate change. The group will work with scientists and researchers at Atlantic Technological University, Galway City to understand people’s behaviours and the key approaches that can influence attitude and ignite community transformation.

The Galway Bay is Calling collective will then collaborate in groups with renowned Florence-based Irish cello player, singer, and composer Naomi Berrill, to articulate their experiences of the workshop and research work, exploring ideas for community responses. Naomi will take these inputs and write a new composition for the collective, who will rehearse their parts independently before coming together in Galway a week before Music for Galway’s Cellissimo Festival in May 2024 to rehearse collectively.

The world premiere of Galway Bay is Calling, a new composition for solo cello and a mixed bag orchestra, will be presented at the opening day of Cellissimo in Galway on Saturday May 18, 2024.

The progress of Galway Bay is Calling will be documented and shared over the coming months on participants social media channels. Details of Cellissimo will be announced later this year.

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