Skip to main content

[In the Media] ‘Let’s look after the only Earth we have’: Taiwan Studies welcomes ‘Small Island Big Song’ to Town Hall Seattle

February 12, 2022

For the past 2 years, a group of artists from across the Pacific and the Indian Ocean have been meeting to share their concerns about their environment, about climate change, and also to connect their cultures, their songs, and their stories. Meeting regularly, writing songs together. The result is Small Island Big Song‘s second album, Our Island, and the world premiere concert on Jan 29, co-presented by the UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program and Town Hall Seattle.

Weeks after meeting SIBS vocalists from the Pacific, singing the indigenous voice from Taiwan, from Papua New Guinea, from the Marshall Islands, and musicians from the Indian Ocean, bringing the Séga music from Mauritius and the rhythm from Madagascar, music lovers in Seattle are still raving about SIBS’s captivating performance that integrates artistry with movement-building!

Images of thick oil permeating the Pacific Ocean and women drowning beneath the strong currents of the water lingered on screen. The musicians, with handcrafted and culturally significant instruments, sang in a number of languages about the environmental issues affecting their island nations.

Regardless of whether you understood the spoken words, the message rang loud and clear: through the ocean, we are all connected.

The line that repeated throughout the performance — “our island” — emphasized both the beauty and importance of stewardship on our one and only Earth. In the performance, I noticed a language that was not entirely unfamiliar, and quickly picked up on the singer’s background as Indigenous Taiwanese.

The inclusion of Taiwan — specifically, artists who identified as part of the Indigenous tribes rather than Han Chinese — was intentional. Ellen Chang, director of the Arts and Culture Program for the UW Taiwan Studies Program, focused on including Indigenous Taiwanese actors and artists in events such as the Small Island Big Song performance Jan. 29.

Read Julie Emory‘s full recap on The Daily (Feb 2022 Issue):                                

To learn more about Small Island Big Song’s collaborative project, check out SAMA Seattle Sacred Music & Art‘s interview with SIBS artists/musicians, Putad (Taiwan), Sauljaljui (Taiwan), Emlyn (Mauritius), Kan Chan Kin (Mauritius), Kokol (Mauritius), Sammy (Madagascar), Selina Leem (Marshall Islands), Richard Mogu (Papua New Guinea) & co-producers, BaoBao Chen and Tim Cole (aired at 8pm PT, Feb 10, 2022):