Maureen O’Brien

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The wetlands project

by Maureen O’Brien

TN161 Feb 24

It was a 15month project to bring the new album, “Song of the Wetlands” to fruition.

Quite a journey, and something I’d never tackled before, so it was with some degree of trepidation that I began.

Was I up to the task?

There were other composers that could surely do it better!

Whilst I had worked on numerous arts/music festivals before over the years, this one took me out of my comfort zone and I was flying solo.

But I am a member of a fabulous creative community.

I’m a singer, a musician, a songwriter, a playwright, and much more.

Surely there would be people who’d be willing to collaborate, and there was!

With a choral piece, The Wetlands Rhapsody, at the core, it was the first to be co-ordinated and recorded.

Some 50+ singers responded to a callout and of those, 26 made it to a “Scratch Choir” day.

A volunteer videographer whom I’d met a few weeks previously at a friend’s wedding, took charge with his state of the art film and recording equipment, while the singers listened for the first time to the new work, then rehearsed and finally captured a first recording.

In the following months, I put out further calls for the help I needed.

These included a classical guitarist, rock musicians, concertina and mandolin accompanists, recording and sound engineers, a transcriber, and production support.

With just one exception, everyone I asked expressed enthusiasm to participate.

What I initially thought would be a long solo project became a community collaborative adventure.

It reinforced the idea for me that, in the Newcastle & Hunter NSW region anyway, we have such an abundance of creativity, and such generosity of spirit in our arts community, and that makes us rich in imagination.

Now that the soundtrack is completed, next is to see what the fibre artists have created based on the music.

The first exhibition opened at the Timeless Textiles Gallery in Hunter Street, Newcastle, on January 11 and remined open through to early February.

With artists from local, national, and worldwide participating, what I’ve seen so far is outstanding.

The exhibition returns home to the Hunter Wetlands in April.

“Song of the Wetlands” is an 11-track album and by its very nature is a reflection of the Wetlands community and the local music community that enabled it to reach its destination.

It is available on CD from, or in CD, Flash Drive, or digital format from

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