Music for Rebellion

‘Fresh’ back from the Extinction Rebellion protests in London, which are currently taking place to highlight Government inaction on the pressing issue of climate change, and I’m inspired to report to Wild Notes on the abundant power of music and the arts in these times.

a clip of me playing at St James’s Park last week

I spent 3 days making music in a variety of contexts across the city, including jamming in roads with multiple people (including another cellist!), singing an amplified set with a beatboxer and drummer at Trafalgar Square, inviting others to join me in an improvised call-and-response and spontaneous harmonies, doing a solo set of my songs in St James’s Park as the police started their attempt at removing protesters’ tents, and performing over the mic at BBC Broadcasting House on Friday to question the BBC’s lack of openness around reporting on climate change.

Being part of these demonstrations – part of a whole, immensely diverse creative attempt to raise mass awareness of the need to change the infrastructure in urgent response to climate change – and the global, social justice issues that are innately part of this, has brought me alive in so many ways.

Seeing how music has the power to bring people together, alleviate tension in edgy circumstances, bring joy and positive messages through the darkness and convey the great grief present too, gives me so much courage to carry on and up my dedication as a creative activist.

It was also a chance to meet other art-ivists and feel more a part of the web of transformation. Perhaps my favourite moment was on coming across an exquisitely beautiful mandala made from drawings depicting endangered animals, set out on the slabwork of Trafalgar Square. The artist invited me to play some cello there, and I very willingly obliged, singing too. I was soon, almost seamlessly, joined by the voices of her and two other women. Our soulful, griefsoaked improvisation felt like an elegy for all the lost ones, all the endangered and those yet to be, and was an incredibly moving, raw unfolding from our hearts, which around the mandala created a space of sacredness amidst the chaos.

Thank you to all the wise&courageous creatives who are keeping the heart and soul of our collective movement for change alive…

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© 2017 Ailsa Mair Hughes

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