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Small Island Big Song Concert & Impact

‘Our Island’

 

Framed in a theatrical narrative amongst panoramic visuals of the artist’s homelands, the audience experiences a musical journey across the breadth and into the soul of island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, meeting an ancient seafaring ancestry and confronting the impacts of environmental changes head on.

 

Drawing on a roster of respected islander artists maintaining their musical lineage, ‘Our Island’ is a unique oceanic collaboration combining musical traditions, dance, personal testimony and live cinema engaging audiences from huge festival stages to intimate theatres.

Within the concert, we have two slots for local collaborations; a youth voice, and a local singer-songwriter. Moving beyond the concert, Small Island Big Song offers a rich community engagement program to creatively engage and unpack the environmental, social and cultural contexts on our oceans’ islands.

Small Island Big Song is a music, film & performing arts project uniting islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans; a contemporary artistic statement confronting our concerns for a changing sea.

Founded by Taiwanese theatre producer BaoBao Chen and Australian music producer and filmmaker Tim Cole in 2015, the two have been recording and filming with over a hundred musicians in nature across 16 island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The outcomes include two award-winning albums, a feature film, impact programs, and a live concert that has toured around the world across 20 countries reaching over 200K+ live audiences since 2018, creating "One coherent jaw dropping piece" as described by Rob Schwartz - Billboard.

Music critic Tom Orr has noted in the RootsWorld review “….sound like one very big, very happy family doing what they do best while helping get the word out on a most serious issue.”

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2015 BaoBao & Tim quit theirs jobs after hearing the 5th IPCC report, with a dream to unite the voices of the ocean through musical collaboration
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2016 to 2018 with a couple of cameras & mic's, they collaborated with musicians across 16 island nations.
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2018 we premiered our concert at SXSW International Day Stage, and have been touring the world since.
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The artists & islands BaoBao & Tim have visited,

connected by the ocean & an ancient seafaring heritage.

Small Island Big Song project trailer

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'Our Island' PERFORMANCES

 

- Full concert 90 min' with intermission -

- Youth show 60 min' no intermission -

- Artists' solo concerts -

 

IMPACT PROGRAM

- Film screening + Q&A -

Small Island Big Song - An Oceanic Songline

- Community Engagement -

Dance workshop

Songwriting & Storytelling

Up-cycle instrument making

Traditional cuisine with a local twist

- Panel, Multi-media Lecture & Demonstration -

History from an Indigenous Perspective

Climate Crisis - Our Response As Artists

The genesis of Small Island Big Song

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"Honestly [Small Island Big Song] was one of the best, most wonderful projects I have worked on in a presenting career that is going on 30 years!"

- Amy Vashaw - Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State Univ'

“Small Island Big Song was definitely worth the wait! Such a pleasure to get to know each of you and see what can be created from deep, extended collaboration such as what you have engaged in.”
- Laura Evans - Bing Concert Hall / Standford Live!

"We had a wonderful experience with Small Island Big Song. The entire team was warm and great to work with and the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of Tim and BaoBao and the entire artistic collective was felt by all who participated in the residency activities. The class visits, discussions, and workshops were superb and engaged our students and community in meaningful ways. The performance was enthralling for everyone who attended - we received so many wonderful comments from audiences as they were leaving the theater."

- Shannon Hooker - Modlin Center at Univ' of Richmond

“I think I speak for everyone at MDC Live Arts when I say that we loved working with SIBS - they have been great every step of the way!”

- Kathryn Garcia - Miami-Dade College / Live Arts Miami

Performing Artists

 

Due to the nature of the project, the individuals in the 'Our Island' performance are subject to change. A current and accurate list of artists involved in the performance will be available closer to the performance date.

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Sammy
Madagascar

Sammy has led an extraordinary life as a Madagascan musician, at a time when most picked up guitars over the traditional Valiha, Sammy followed his passion for Madagascar’s musical heritage, by mastering and learning how to make most of Madagascar’s instruments.

His efforts coming to the notice of the UK’s world music scene as his group ‘Tarika Sammy’, gained international recognition, becoming a regular on major festival stages and being acknowledged as one of the world’s best 10 bands, by TIME Magazine. Sammy has been much in demand since, and we are proud to have him at every Small Island Big Song concert.

Photo: Sammy with SIBS at TIFA 2023 by Tony Tsai 

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From Amazon Bay on the south coast of Papua New Guinea, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Richard Mogu has been a feature musician in PNG for many years as a solo artist and session musician. Excelling in both traditional and contemporary style. ​

Whilst bass is his feature instrument, he is also adept at mambu (bamboo flutes), garamut drumming, guitars and percussion. He was taught by legendary Sanguma founder Tony Subam.

As a mentor for Creative Arts & Music at University of Garoka, Mogu has a passion of sharing with the next generation.

Photo: Richard with SIBS at TIFA 2023 by Tony Tsai 

Richard Mogu
Papua New Guinea

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Putad
Taiwan

Powerful, entrancing, unapologetic all words used to describe Putad’s engaging stage presence. In the proud spirit of her Indigenous Amis heritage Putad unites ancient vocal traditions with raw energy of grunge, rock and punk as her and her brother Wusang’s band Outlet Drift express. Their bold, uplifting and uncompromising shows place their Amis heritage on centre stage at 100db & 100mph as they confront prejudices taking the audience on an unforgettable sonic ride.

In the Small Island Big Song ensemble, she brings this energy, her soaring voice, rock bass along with her coastal Amis ancestry and love for the ocean. A regular surfer, Putad’s connection to the ocean will be brought onto stage and into the outreach program.

Photo: Putad with SIBS at TIFA 2023 by Tony Tsai 

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Emlyn
Mauritius

Featured on CNN, songwriter, musician and dancer, Emlyn is leading a wave of performers across the Indian Ocean proudly reclaiming their unique rhythms and cultural mix.

Written with a reactive pen and sung in Creole, her songs rebelliously express her concerns for her island’s environment. A cause she has taken up as co-founder of ‘Enn Losean Vivab’, a Mauritius based organisation educating school students about plastic pollution. Emlyn brings the infectious grooves of Sega with its soul from the African slave trade to the stage played on the Ravann, Triangle and Kayamb

Photo: Emlyn with SIBS at TIFA 2023 by Tony Tsai 

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Olivia Foa’i is a singer-songwriter, musician, director and dancer. Being the daughter of Opetaia Foa’i, the founder of internationally acclaimed Polynesian band - Te Vaka. She’s performed across 40 countries with the band and is featured on Disney's "Moana” soundtrack. In 2019 she released her debut solo album Candid and won "Best Pacific Album" in the Aotearoa Music Awards and "Best Female Artist" in the Pacific Music Awards 2020. 

Photo: Olivia with SIBS at TIFA 2023 by Tony Tsai 

Olivia Foa'i
Tokelau & New Zealand

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Aremiti
Tahiti

Like the lively uplifting Tahitian rhythm he was named after, Aremiti’s music could have only come from one island, Tahiti. A natural fusion of the island's cultural mix grounded in his Tahitian heritage, Aremistic’s songs and performances integrate traditional Polynesian instruments and rhythms with reggae, hip-hop, rock, folk and pop sensibilities, often sung in Tahitian, French & English in one song. His recent performances at Aotearoa/New Zealand’s ‘Pasifika festival’ and in Europe and the USA expanded his reputation as a voice for the Pacific Ocean.

Photo: Aremiti with SIBS at Tempe performing arts center 2024 by Neil Schwartz Photography

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Yoyo Tuki
Rapa Nui

The world sees Easter Islanders as the people who foolishly depleted their natural resources deforesting their island, Yoyo Tuki confronts that image as he stands strong in his Rapa Nui ancestry steadied through a deep respect for his land and traditions as nurtured by his grandfather ‘Mana Roa’ (Great Wisdom).

A mana (Substance of presence) ringing out through his singing, music, art and performance, lifting us above our prejudices. Pioneering fusions of reggae, folk and funk with his mastery of Polynesian ukulele styles, Yoyo Tuki sings out for one of the most remote islands on Earth.

Photo: Yoyo with SIBS at 2023 WOMADelaide festival, Australia by Samra Teague 

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Mathieu
Mauritius 

Mathieu has been a professional dancer and choreographer since the age of 14 when he was discovered breakdancing on the suburban streets of Port Louis, Mauritius by renowned choreographer Stephen Bongarçon. Quickly embedding himself in Bongarçon’s SRDance, his dedication earned him the gold medal for dance at "Les Jeux de la Francophonie'' in 2009. Leading to a succession of shows and companies, including choreographing "Di Sel”, a tribute to the salt workers of Mauritius which won the "Les Jeux de la Francophonie" in France in 2017.

Photo: Mathieu with SIBS at Tempe performing arts center 2024 by Neil Schwartz Photography

Co-Founders & Producers

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Tim Cole
Australia

Cole is an Australian music producer and filmmaker who’s passionate about cross-cultural arts projects. He has produced numerous albums, films and concerts for Australian aboriginal, Torres Strait islander and Pacifica artists including Archie Roach, Telek, and Shellie Morris. He has also toured internationally with Circus Oz for 8 years as theater and sound designer with seasons on Broadway NYC & West End London.

 

He was a senior music producer at CAAMA - Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association before beginning Small Island Big Song.

 

Cole has received a Churchill fellowship and invitations to speak at the United Nations HQ, APAP NYC, and WOMEX.

Photo by Tony Tsai

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BaoBao Chen
Taiwan

Having produced and managed Small Island Big Song's two multimedia concert productions, two award-winning albums, documentary, as well as curating world tours across 18 countries in Europe, the USA, Asia and Oceania, BaoBao is one of Taiwan’s most prominent producers of cross-cultural arts projects and an ISPA (International Society for the Performing Arts) fellow 2023-25.

 

A vivid storyteller and fluent in English and Mandarin, she has a social media following of 130K+, and has been invited to speak at TEDx, WOMEX, APAP NYC, Stanford Live, and numerous arts festivals.

Photo by Tony Tsai

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"A towering musical achievement but also a heartfelt plea for environmental awareness and preservation, Small Island Big Song delivers a powerful and relevant musical statement of a region on the frontline of global, cultural and environmental challenges."

- Rob Schwartz - Billboard

"One of our favourite ‘album of the week’, it’s not the usual thing."

- Lauren Laverne - BBC 6 Music UK

Small Island Big Song is a little, jewel-like idea that grew into a huge project.” ★★★★★
- Seth Jordan - Songline Magazine UK

"For too long the term "world music" has applied overwhelmingly to music from Africa, the Indian subcontinent and South America. Asia and the Pacific have been the Cinderellas at the party. Not any more!★★★★★

- Bruce Elder - Sydney Morning Herald AU

“…all 74 minutes of the album sound like one very big, very happy family doing what they do best while helping get the word out on a most serious issue."

- Tom Orr - RootsWorld US

"…a playful and potent soundtrack to the region and its seafaring peoples. Utterly wonderful."

- Stuart Derdeyn - The Vancouver Sun CA

'Our Island'

Concert & Impact Tour 

#1 Trans Global Music Chart 2022 Feb

Nominated - 2022 Golden Melody Awards TAIWAN

Best Indigenous Album & Album of the Year

2024       19 Performing Arts Centers, USA

2023       The Arts Centre NYUAD, Abu Dhabi UAE

2023       COP28, Dubai UAE 

2023       ACC World Music Festival, Gwangju South Korea

2023       Taiwan International Festival of Arts, Taipei Taiwan
2023       WOMADelaide, Adelaide, Australia 

2022       Cloud Gate Theatre, Taipei Taiwan

2022       Taitung Art Museum, Taitung Taiwan

2022       Italian Capital of Culture, Procida Italy

2022       Warner Grand Theatre, San Pedro CA

2022       Univ. of California in Santa Barbara, Santa Babara CA

2022       James Madison Univ. & Forbes P.A.C., Harrisonburg VA

2022       Zeiterion Perf. Art Center, New Bedford MA

2022       Dartmouth College & Spaulding Auditorium, Hanover NH

2022       Lehigh Univ. & Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem PA

2022       Penn State Univ. & Penn State P.A.C., State College PA

2022       Moraine Valley community college & Dorothy Menker Theater, Palos Hills IL

2022       Univ. of Massachusetts & Randolph W. Bromery Center, Amherst MA

2022       Symphony Space & World Music Institute, New York City NY

2022       Univ. of Richmond. & Camp Concert Hall, Richmond VA

2022       Univ. of Illinois in Urbana & Foellinger Great Hall, Urbana IL

2022       Fox Cities P.A.C., Appleton WI

2022       Miami-Dade College & North Beach Band Shell, Miami FL

2022       Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale AZ

2022       Univ. of Arizona & Centennial hall, Tucson AZ

2022       Stanford Univ. & Bing Concert Hall, Stanford CA

2022       Pantages Theatre, Tacoma WA

2022       Mount Baker Theatre, Bellingham WA

2022       Vashon arts center, Vashon WA

2022       Town Hall Seattle, Seattle WA

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Album 'Small Island Big Song'

Concert Tour 

Winner - 2019 Songlines Music Award UK - Best Asia/Pacific album

Winner - 2019 The Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics' Awards) - Album of the Year 

Nominated - 2019 Independent Music Awards US - Best Concept Album & Best Music Website

★★★★★ Sydney Morning Herald, AU

★★★★★ Songlines Magazine, UK

Lauren Laverne's Album of the week on BBC Radio 6 

2019       Colors of Ostrava Festival, Ostrava Czech Republic 

2019       Rudolstadt Festival, Rudolstadt Germany 

2019       MTC Southbank Theatre, Melbourne Australia

2019       Verona Palace, Sydney Australia 

2019       Kaohsiung Container Arts Festival, Kaohsiung Taiwan

2019       Torba Arts Festival, Mota Lava Vanuatu 

2018       Legacy, Taipei Taiwan

2018       Taoyuan Music Festival, Taoyuan Taiwan

2018       Førde World Music Festival, Førde Norway

2018       EtnoSur Festival, Alcalá la Real Spain

2018       Pllek, Amsterdam Holland  Prachtwerk

2018       Prachtwerk, Berlin Germany 

2018       Peace Boat, Copenhagen Denmark to Reykjavik Iceland

2018       Indigenous Celebration, Bali Indonesia  

2018       South by South West, International Day Stage, Austin USA

2017       World Stage Design (Work in progress), Taipei Taiwan

Music Videos