The Flying Orchestra

Since moving to Queensland about two and half years ago, I’ve really come to love my new home. In fact, recently I’ve had so many “I love Brisbane!” moments when I’ve been out doing ordinary things: people-watching in the city, strolling home from a friend’s place under starry skies after a cup of tea and chat, standing at the bus stop in the morning on the way to work and counting how many palm trees I can see (I think it was about sixteen without even really trying). With the exception of this week, Brisbane does a pretty decent winter and it’s mild and sunny most days, even if the temperature drops quickly as soon as the sun goes down. I do like it here.

Last year I discovered I really beautiful children’s book which is set in Brisbane, and it’s also about music. Chances are anyone in Australia with kids under five already knows about it, but that’s not me; I heard about it during the homily at a wedding of all places. The illustrations are just gorgeous and while Brisbane doesn’t really have any world-famous icons that make it obvious where the pictures are of, everyone who lives here will know City Hall (still undergoing renovations) and the view from Southbank across to the city. So when I’m walking past City Hall on my way into work, I often think of this book.

It’s called The Flying Orchestra by local author Clare McFadden, (you can see her reading the whole book on YouTube, with musical accompaniment) and it’s a beautiful short story about the orchestra which is always in the background, playing the soundtrack to all the events in our lives, big and small. It begins:

“Some days are so windy that even the angels lose their balance from the top of City Hall. It’s always a day like this when the Flying Orchestra blows into town.

Their concert program is a busy one – a violin solo when someone misses their train, a symphony at the airport for a traveller coming home, a concerto when someone stays awake all night thinking, and a sonata for a sad moment at a birthday party.”

That’s about a quarter of it so it’s not very long. If you have young children – or if you don’t – I highly recommend it.

Last week as I walked through the lovely tree-lined streets of suburban Ashgrove on a sunny morning, my flying orchestra was playing this. Just because.


I’m actually going overseas today for a month, heading to Europe for various wonderful adventures, including a friend’s wedding, a volunteer program and a music summer school. I am so excited, but the last few weeks have just been insanely busy, and I think I’ve only had one weekend since Easter where I haven’t had a rehearsal, concert, wedding or church service to sing at. It was last weekend. So that’s why the blog’s been quiet, as I demonstrate the near impossibility of maintaining a good writing habit on top of good work habits and good singing practice habits.

I will try to post at some point from the road though, as I’m pretty sure my flying orchestra has some Mendelssohn lined up to play for me in Berlin, and some Dvořák and Smetana in Prague, and maybe some Rodrigo in Spain.

What’s your flying orchestra playing for you today?

About Bronwyn

Brisbane-based editor and choral musician
This entry was posted in For children, Literature, Orchestras & Instrumental Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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