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People to watch this month: Claire Cowan, musician/composer

People to watch this month: Claire Cowan, musician/composer

Sep 23, 2016 Music

Above: Claire Cowan. Photo: supplied.

Claire Cowan loves a nana nap — so much so, she recently blogged about how to have a good nap, and why naps are a good thing.

In the hours she’s awake — more than you might imagine, given how many naps she takes — Cowan and eight members of her orchestral group, Blackbird Ensemble, are rehearsing their collaborative work Dreams (yes, a show about sleeping) for the Auckland Live International Cabaret Season.

The show, which debuted at the Basement last year — Metro reviewer David Larsen called it “magical” — returns for just one performance. The ensemble call themselves a “mini-orchestra”, but really they’re a loose gang of about 50 classical musicians who perform experimental shows featuring rearrangements of contemporary songs by the likes of David Bowie and The Smiths.

Songs are chosen to fit the show’s theme; past ones include the ocean and the night sky. “I’ve got all these playlists that I keep adding to,” says Cowan. “There’s songs from the 80s, 90s, hits of today. It’s basically the Breeze!” The songs in Dreams, naturally, run the gamut from sex to snoozing.

Blackbird Ensemble has been around for six years and while the cast is a moveable feast, the philosophy doesn’t change. “[It’s about] taking away the rules and regulations,” says Cowan, “and saying that all music is music and that all music is worthy of performance.”

Dreams: Blackbird Ensemble, September 30, Auckland Town Hall.