CANMORE – A musical duo are aiming to connect people deeper with their own bodies while simultaneously helping them to further broaden knowledge of their innermost selves through a unique meditation music show.
Musician Evan Freeman and harpist Eily Aurora are bringing their show Home Shall Be Here to the Yoga Lounge in Canmore on Saturday (May 11).
“Its meditation music [that’s] primarily focused around the two instruments that Eily plays, which are the Celtic harp and the Chinese harp,” said Freeman.
“The origin of the name Home Shall Be Here is that with the music that we play and in the environment, we try to connect people to the home of their body, and of their community and the planet.”
Freeman said the show includes opportunities for the audience to truly engage with the content through singing or dancing, meditation and yoga.
In terms of connecting to the planet, Freeman and Aurora use a truly unique way to do so. It’s called a Music of the Plants Machine, which physically connects to a plant and uses electromagnetic currents to produce sound.
“Basically what it does is it’s a bio feedback machine and it creates a current through the plant, there’s a little node that goes in the soil, so basically it goes from the roots all the way to the leaves,” Aurora said.
“The changes in electromagnetic frequencies of the plant become audible through this machine that has various different settings on it. We use the harp setting, there’s also guitar and other strange sounds that we don’t want to include.”
Aurora said she’s been working with the machine for a few years now, trying experiments to see what noises it makes when interacting with different types of crowds. For example, Aurora said when you start engaging with the plant its behaviour in terms of sound is different.
“When we’re inviting the audience to participate, or we play directly with the plant, it’s quite noticeable that the electromagnetic frequency that is measured through those sounds that are coming out completely changes after we start engaging with the plant intentionally,” she said.
“Plants that are in spaces where people are more welcoming, it’ll play more, it’ll play more around children, and it’ll play less around people who want to touch it, like sometimes it’ll stop playing completely if people touch it.”
Though the Music of the Plants Machine is certainly intriguing, it isn’t the only draw-in to participate in the show. Along with harps, the duo has incorporated many innovative and audience-inclusive aspects, including a plethora of different instruments.
“We’re travelling with 20 different instruments, a lot of them many people haven’t seen or heard before,” said Freeman.
“The soundscapes that we can create with it, I feel it’s a pretty amazing experience to hear the drones and the harp and the percussion and guitar all kind of working together to take people though this meditative journey.”
When it comes to the reason the two are so passionate about what they do, they said a large part of it is kind of a personal one that has encouraged them to try to help people cope with mental health.
“Eily and I recently lost two friends to suicide, so our genuine and natural response to that was to use our creativity to express that grief,” said Freeman.
“Also to bring the message [that] we want people to stay on the planet and commit to life and mental health so there actually is a significant mental health component to what we’re doing. It’s not like a lecture, but more of an experience with a story”
Aurora said the importance of discussing and attempting to manage mental health in a creative and healthy way can be a difficult one.
“Mental health is quite a crisis, internationally, locally, globally, and having those experiences in our lives … it’s just what we’ve got to do,” she said.
“It’s heartbreaking to see so much suffering in the world around mental health and that we’ve been touched so closely by it, it’s just the right thing to do at this time is to bring people together in a beautiful space, creating these beautiful workshops to try to transform their suffering.”
Freeman said they feel music is important for mental health.
“We’ve been forced to confront the fact that there is a suicide epidemic in Canada and around the world ... Our response is to try and bring people together not just online, but in person to gather and form a community, support each other and all that kind of stuff that can help someone if they’re feeling isolated or depressed or anxious.”
Meditation and mindfulness practices have seen a serious uptick in the last few years, in a large part due to mental health. Studies in recent years such as the findings of researchers at John Hopkins University suggest that using meditation can help ease stress, anxiety, depression and pain.
Home Shall Be Here is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 11 at the Yoga Lounge in Canmore. Tickets cost $40 or $32 for auto-renew members.