TEDxSydney 2012 – the musicale

Yesterday I was at TEDxSydney live at the Carriageworks and it was a completely mind-blowing, epic, energising and surprisingly musical day.

Unusually for me I left my twitter off and instead plugged straight into the equivalent of an 829 brain mega parrallel organic computer ( theatre attendees plus speakers) hive mind.

Seriously – it felt like being part of a giant self learning network with a ticket to the big bang – which is this case was a series of well organised and immaculately executed talks inside an amazing musical adventure.

As an event organiser myself  have long ago learned that the speakers and presentations at these events are real bonuses. It is a bit like pouring petrol on a burning fire when you already have 800 firestarters in the room.

Meeting and making real face to face (connections) is way better than facebooking 🙂 as Sam Simmons so eloquently pointed out later in the day with his 1 man riot comedy routine that completely blasted away any and all boundaries but back to the start.

For me the the big surprise of the day was how music soaked the programme was and how seamlessly and  organic that felt in the moment. Jordan Verzar – the musical director deserves a huge shout out for his excellent work.

He collaborated with some brilliant musicians to generate a fertile musical landscape where every cadence and beat puntuated and stimulated the imagination into a series after series of brain bursting goodness.

I’m a big fan of Jools Hollands Later music programme where a handpicked selection of the worlds best musicians perform and this TEDxSydney 2012 was very much the musicale equivalent.

I have watched something like 300+ TED and TEDx talks and even though I am a musician at core I tend to avoid the musical clips for the most part. OTOH I’ve lost count of the number of times I watched Benjamin Zander’s shining eyes talk – music is an aural accelerant.

The first indication of musicale awesomess was when string quartet FourPlay paid a music tribute to the late Adam Yauch with their performance of Sabotage like you’ve never heard before. ( Updated with actual clip on 1st of June – this is when the event really caught fire)

But you’ve seen and heard nothing till you’ve seen Greg Sheehan master percussionist burst amazing music out of a table full of squeaky toys. This routine with kitchen utensils gives an idea but can’t wait for that clip to go live. OTOH – it was a party trick and could get stale very quickly.

All of the talks were incredible and it is hard to pick out high points but for me the talks that reasonated with me personally were the really unexpected and unanticipated moments.

Mandyam V. Srinivasans talk on bees where he managed to not mention neuro science but showed us brain images of bees and decoded their little waggle dances onscreen was a sheer delight.

Evan Kidd talked on the importance of play in schools and value of imaginary friends in a humourous but enlightening way. ( Note to education policy makers: – standardised testing just sounds useful but will in fact have the opposite effect.) Evan has the reasearch to show that more play and creativity in schools works way better.

Update: Fever Picture : Gavin Blake graphic – play matters – Evan Kidd

Somehow despite Sir Ken Robinson having visited NZ twice recently the message to education policy makers hasn’t got through. ( I wrote about this in Flipping the Classroom and Creativity & Innovation Linked)

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis was another surprise. He succintly pointed out that competition in politics does not get us the best outcomes but collaboration by random citizens – sort of like a rotating jury panel would actually work.

As an architecture nerd – I absolutely loved hearing Gerard Reinmuth & Anthony Burke put modernism in its place and talk about ways to re-connect architecture to the real world.

Katie Noonan was a musical revelation. I was thinking Natalie Merchant meets Gilian Welch and then some when she got us to do sing / breathe in her second song.

Lynette Wallworth’s Coral Rekindling Venus – a major art installation for full dome planetariams was gobsmacking enough and then she topped that off with a beautiful song called Rise by Antony & the Johnsons. Lyn managed to connect art, science and music all at the same time.

Chris Anderson (from big TED) was respectfully introduced by Julian Morrow who then managed to top that by saying “lets face it TED is a bit like a cult and so a visit by the leader could be time to drink the kool aid” or words to that effect.

However Chris @TEDchris whose opening lines were “Teachers are heroes” showed us once again that TED & TEDx is now a movemnet that is truly changing the world by education means nececessary.

Arguably Sir Ken Robinsons first talk helped launch the TEDiverse and now Chris Anderson pairing of teachers and presentation experts + technology for uber scaling we have full lift off.

What I call TEDucation is now in full stream ahead mode and that is an idea worth spreading.

Extra special thanks to Remo & family, Annette Higgins, Felicity MacDougal, Alan Jones and all the other wonderful people that I met again or for the first time.

Special shout outs to Kath Purkis, Alex Zaia and the many others that I met. It is especially great to meet very bright young people who are up for changing their worlds.

I also loved meeting other TEDx organisers – here I am with Jason & Clare Conroy from TEDx Canberra. Also got to hang out with Kaila Colbin TEDxEqcChCH did some more planning with Ben Irving for TEDxAuckand ( coming in August this year.) Photo credit below: Tony Hollingsworth @hollingsworth

Jason Conroy, Clare Conroy, Jason Kemp

TEDxSydney 2012 was so musicalicios I’m heading back there today for TED@Sydney Event on Sunday.