Social Activism Waves (March 2017)

I’m not quite queer yet, but I can catch a glimpse of a queer world — that is, a world designed for queers instead of against us — with radically reconfigured politics, ways of knowing and feeling, ways of existing with each other. – Dan Thorpe

This month’s playlist, Social Activism Waves, is a collection of works that interrogate or reflect on many different aspects of society, culture, identity or politics.  The compositions include personal narratives or commentaries on subjects as wide-ranging as: mental health, terrorism, the environment, AIDs activism in the 80s-90s, refugees, queer and gender identity.  By using the term “activism” it is not our intention to define or narrow/box in the output or stance of the ten composers featured below. Rather, it acknowledges that in this particular work they have publicly offered a strong position; something deeply stirring, confessional, reflective or all of the above.  Many of the composers featured have been kind enough to offer some additional words about their motivations in writing their work. We encourage you to read these comments by clicking on their name below.

I can honestly say I was torn while writing this piece. I am motivated to write for injustice and to give a musical voice to inequality. At the same time, I felt uncomfortable to be composing “as a woman”. I don’t see my music as gendered. My ovaries do not compose. – May Lyon

The timing of this playlist is not random. At this current moment in time, national and international politics are careening hard right – further than some of us thought possible.  Funding climates continue to create tension for all artists, adding to our growing concerns over the treatment of our planet and our fellow human beings. For many, an inward retreat to the purely musical is one way of coping.  Others ask,  “What can I do? How can I as a musician express this or inspire change?”  No one way is more worthy. We encourage you to listen, read, explore, support the composers, discuss, share and contribute to this playlist in any form. We also welcome your comments below.  Our immense thanks to our talented composers for this touching playlist that has offered us much food for thought and inspiration.

Between a quarter and a third of the Great Barrier Reef has died due to coral bleaching by pollution and climate change. Despite the severity and publicity of this catastrophe, politicians refuse to address the issue, and my current part time job constantly forces me to witness the wasteful and apathetic attitude of the general public regularly. – Aidan Maizels



  1. Aidan Maizels, Water Too Warm
    For 2 acoustic guitars, 3 electric guitars, synthesizer, metronome and effects.
  2. Dan Thorpe, Considerate
    For piano and electronics.
  3. Andrea Breen, Responsibility
    For viola, cello and wine glasses.
  4. Marlēné Claudine Radice & ALPHAMALE, Something To Burn
    For viola, electronics, voices and loop station. Performed and composed by ALPHAMALE and Marlēné Claudine Radice for COUP Canberra’s 2016 production of Caryl Churchill’s play, Vinegar Tom.
  5. Angus Baxter, The Fanatic or I Am Right You Are Dead
    An electroacoustic work.
  6. May Lyon, On The Inside
    For flute, clarinet, cello, piano. First performed on 7th March 2016 by Tamara Kohler, Gemma Tomlinson, Aaron Klein, & Adam McMillan. Recording by David Collins at Melba Hall, The University of Melbourne.
  7. Luke Hutton, Fregoli Delusion
    For piano and flute.



  1. Shannon Rogers, Humane
    For piano.  Recorded by Mitchell Dormer.
  2. Lyle Chan, “In September the Light Changes” from String Quartet: An AIDS Activist’s Memoir in Music
    For string quartet.  Recorded by Acacia Quartet.
  3. Paul Kopetz, Adagio for the fallen
    For string orchestra. Recorded by KLK Lviv Chamber Orchestra; Conductor: Ferdinando Nazzaro.

Hear something that catches your attention? To find out more about a Soundcloud recording, click on the track name in the playlist and then again on ‘view track’. For the YouTube features, the ‘playlist’ button will bring up a track listing which you can use to skip back and forth between the works.  If you want to check out the playlist and works in more detail, there is a button at the bottom right of the picture taking you directly through to YouTube. To find out more about a particular composer, click on their name in the ‘Details’ section above.

We’d love to hear about your listening experience! Share your thoughts or send messages of support to our featured composers and performers in the comment box below. We also encourage you to click through to Soundcloud and YouTube to like, comment and subscribe to Making Waves as well as the composers, performers, and presenters featured.

The Social Activism Waves playlist will be featured until 1 April 2017. All previous playlists from 2015 & 2016 are available in our blog archives for the life of the project, so please do explore the website for previously featured sounds.

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