Review / Sex, dragons and expert music!

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A bearded dragon.
A bearded dragon… concert was a multi-media presentation of music and the science behind the bearded dragon’s sex.
I WISH my science lessons in school could have been as interesting, engaging and entertaining as the, um, concert (or was it a seminar?) presented by the inimitable Griffyn Ensemble.

Typical of the Griffyns’ innate ability to be innovative, daring and challenging, but always fascinating and entertaining, this concert was a multi-media presentation of music and the science behind the bearded dragon’s sex – how it can change and how it might be determined in the first place.

Some of the music was original; there was a piece by Griffyn director, Michael Sollis. Other works were by the likes of Ross Edwards and Martin Wesley-Smith. And just to round out the program with a touch of familiarity, there were marvellous Sollis-arrangements of Ray Davies’ “Lola” and David Bowie’s “Changes”.

Griffyn director and composer Michael Sollis
Griffyn director and composer Michael Sollis
Throughout the concert, there were film clips by Sollis, featuring commentary by no less than seven scientists from the University of Canberra, all of them expert in the study of the sex of lizards and the implications for the rest of us. 

Did you know, for example, that the sex of the bearded dragon can be determined by temperature?  And what of the human acceleration of the natural cycle of climate change that the dragons have survived for hundreds of thousands of years; how will that affect the scaly little pagonas? Indeed, will we humans even exist in four or five million years?

There even was footage of the dragons, seemingly dancing in time to the music.  There’d be a camera angle looking over a rock only to see the dragons suddenly appear, climbing over each other and bopping like frenzied youths in a disco.

The piece by Sollis, “Bearded Dragon”, was a musical representation of the lizard’s genes, given with no visuals because their make up is a “closely-guarded secret”, or is it more a mystery than a secret?

Sometimes, at the end of a busy week, sitting quietly in a concert, listening to music with the lights turned down low, there can be a temptation to drift off into other thoughts or even, heaven forbid, a little slumber. Not so at this concert. The music was interesting in its variety, notable for the imaginative arrangements, enjoyable for the expert performances and teamwork in the ensemble and fascinating for how it fitted with the themes of the commentaries.

And, of course, who could drift off when so eager to hear what might come next in the intriguing world of sex and dragons.

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