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Welcome to the Ocean Action Grant Blog series! In this series we will be showcasing some of the different Ocean Action Grant projects youth have completed across Canada! The Ocean Action Grant is a microgrant that provides youth across Canada with up to $3000 in funding to lead an individual or collaborative project that contributes to positive change for the environment.

Alex Chen is a collaborative pianist, baritone, and zoologically-trained nature lover. He has an artistic practice that encompasses Baroque coloratura, misty Debussy piano passages, and advocacy for nature. Alex is privileged to live and create on the unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən speaking peoples, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, as well as the unceded territories of the Sc’ianew First Nation. These areas include what are colonially known as Victoria and Langford, BC.

During Ocean Bridge’s Remote Learning Journey to Desolation Sound, Alex learned about a well-loved humpback whale named KC (Kelp Creature). Being a fairly well-documented whale, he was inspired to present KC as a voice for the kelp forests due to his history of playing among the kelp.

Sprinkling in Alex’s own history of music-making & soundscape creation and mixing in naturalist-artist enthusiasm from Jude Abrams & Terry Brown of Welcoming Whales, Alex thought making this musical narrative, guided along by KC, was a perfect way to offer something unique to Ocean Wise and marine conservation at large.

Following the Remote Learning Journey, Alex created a narrative script with the help of dramaturg Jonathan Nash and then assembled a musical ensemble to bring the undersea world to life! In addition to Alex Chen on piano & voice, the team consisted of Dr. Alexander Richards (sopranino & alto saxophones), Shannon Lewis (flute), Vaughan Cooke (French horn), Shruti Madhusudan (sitar), and Melissa Goodchild (clarinet). Alex composed the music, coordinated the team, and then they were off to the races to record remotely!

With the indispensable additional support of Jude Abrams (field recordings) and Lis Xu (visual arts), the team brought the whole project together in sound design and offered art & learning resources to make the project accessible from many angles!

The Adventures of Kelp Creature is a musical narrative introducing audiences to the biodiversity and contemporary conservation challenges of Pacific kelp forest ecosystems. Using whimsical narration, newly-composed music, and a cast of colourful characters, Ocean Action grantee Alex Chen and his undersea musical ensemble will delight your ears! With a cast ranging from bull kelp to southern resident orcas, this free musical piece is created for young people aged 7-11 and the young at heart. 

The approximately 15-minute piece is perfect for listening at home, use in the classroom, or on your next commute. For added fun and learning, the soundtrack comes with printable illustrations of our cast of ocean characters for colouring and cut-outs, as well as activity guides and music & science teacher resources.

You can also find The Adventures of Kelp Creature on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and YouTube Podcasts! Access all the resources here.

Posted March 26, 2024 by Nic Schulz

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