Climate Notes

Climate Notes: Musical performances and interactive exhibition to explore our feelings around climate change

This September, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne will host live musical performances and a free interactive exhibition, which explores our feelings around climate change.  

On Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September, highly acclaimed violinist Anna McMichael and contemporary percussionist Louise Devenish will perform six new compositions developed especially for Climate Notes and in response to the Is This How You Feel web-based project.  

“Angry, frustrated, hopeful, concerned, terrified, sad, motivated – these are some of the emotions that some of our leading climate scientists have expressed and which the composers are exploring in the new musical works,” says Dr. McMichael. 

The ‘Is This How You Feel’ project was instigated by science communicator Joe Duggan in 2014 when he invited leading climate scientists to respond in handwritten letters to how they felt about climate change. 

Dr. McMichael’s father, the late Emeritus Professor Tony McMichael was a leading Australian scientist on climate change and human health. She honoured her father’s work, by teaming up with contemporary percussionist Louise Devenish to create Climate Notes. Anna and Louise commissioned six Australian composers; Damien Barbeler, Kate Moore, Bree van Reyk, Cathy Milliken, Daniel Blinkhorn and Dylan Crismani to compose new musical works responding to the original Is This How You Feel? letters and their own feelings about climate change: in essence, to compose ‘musical letters’.   

From 3 to 18 September, the Gardens will also host the free Climate Notes exhibition which features these musical works for violin, percussion and electronics along with moving images featuring the State Botanical Collection and Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne.  Also on display will be images of the original letters as well as an invitation for visitors to write their own letter to add to the display. 

“These compositions are essentially the musical equivalent to the handwritten letters by the climate scientists. We hope that they invite audience reflection as well as a sense of support and community,” says Dr Devenish. 

The commissioned compositions include various instruments such as violin, vibraphone, electronics, percussion, aluminium bell plates, custom instruments and even field recordings of biomes (types of biological community such as aquatic, grassland, forest, desert, and tundra). 

Climate Notes is presented by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria as part of Victoria Nature Festival. 


Event details: 

Live performances: 

Sat 3 and Sun 4 Sep  

5pm (approx. 70 mins) 


Tickets on sale: 17 August 2022 

Bookings essential 



Sat 3 Sep – Sun 18 Sep  (Wed- Sun only) 

10am – 4pm 

All ages 




Mueller Hall  

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne  

National Herbarium of Victoria, near Gate F  

Birdwood Avenue 

Wheelchair access available, please call Visitor Centre on 9252 2300 


Notes to Editors 

Anna McMichael Anna performs as a solo violinist and with many ensembles and orchestras, being in demand as an experienced musician able to perform diverse styles of music. She enjoyed a successful career in Europe for 25 years before returning to Australia in 2010.   

Anna was Co-Artistic Director of the NSW Tyalgum Music Festival between 2014 and 2019. She joined the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance at Monash University as Head of Strings, Honours Coordinator and as a researcher in 2019.  

Anna performs regularly with groups including, Ensemble Offspring, Australian Haydn Ensemble, Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and is a core member of leading early music specialists, Ironwood. She performs at many festivals around Australia, with appearances recently at Adelaide Festival, Mona Foma, Canberra International Festival of Music, Sydney Festival and Metropolis festival in Melbourne. Anna has recorded her own CD release on the Dutch label Unsounds, and two CDs on the Tall Poppies label. 


Dr Louise Devenish is a contemporary percussionist whose creative practice blends performance, collaboration, and artistic research. As a soloist, director and ensemble musician, she develops new works exploring performance, notation, and collaborative creativity, within The Sound Collectors Lab and various ensembles including acclaimed electroacoustic sextet Decibel.

She performs internationally at festivals such as MONA FOMA, Nagoya and Shanghai World Expos, Ojai Music Festival, Tage für Neue Musik, Darmstädter Ferienkurse, Perth Festival, and Tongyeong International Music Festival. She has collaborated on internationally distributed recordings with Decibel, Intercurrent, Speak Percussion and Synergy Percussion, released on HatArt, Ezz-thetics, Listen/Hear, Immediata, Navona and room40, as well as solo album music for percussion and electronics on Tall Poppies.

Louise’s work has been recognised by a Churchill Fellowship, WA Music Awards, and numerous APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards, including Performance of the Year Award and Luminary Award. Louise is Senior Research Fellow and Percussion Coordinator at Monash University, and regularly publishes writing on new music in books, journals and zines. 


Commissioned musicians: 

Damian Barbeler  

Pressed (violin, vibraphone, electronics) video by Barbeler using images from the plant archives of the State Botanical Collection of Victoria. 

Cathy Milliken  

Red Garden (violin, percussion) video filmed at the Red Sand Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne. 

Bree van Reyk  

How We Fell (performed using custom percussive/string instruments by van Reyk named ‘Replica Trees’)  

Daniel Blinkhorn  

Unequal forms 1 – 3 (violin with preparations, percussive instruments and objects, electronics, field recordings of biomes)  

Kate Moore  

Bloodwood variations (violin solo), video Yengo National Park Photo Journal.  

Dylan Crismani  

A Glimmer of Hope (violin, aluminium bell plates, electronics) 


Artistic Team: 

Anna McMichael Concept, performer, co-creator (violin - appears courtesy of Monash University) 

Louise Devenish Performer, collaborator, (percussion - appears courtesy of Monash University) 

Nick Roux  Installation design and video animation 

Cathy Milliken, Damian Barbeler, Bree van Reyk, Daniel Blinkhorn, Dylan Crismani and Kate Moore   Composers and film design 

Joe Duggan  Letters from Is This How You Feel: concept 

Haydn Buxton  Sound recording 

Karl Willebrant, Chris Cody, Lucian Fuhler   Videos 

Nina Frankova   Photos for Bloodwood Variations.   

Darryl Cordell, Mattea Davies   Design and styling   


Title: Climate Notes 

By: Anna McMichael and Louise Devenish 

Presented by Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria as part of Victoria Nature Festival. 

This project is proudly supported by the Australia Council for the Arts, City of Melbourne Arts Grants, Australian Research Council, Monash University and Inspiring Victoria. 

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work and learn and pay our respects to their Elders past and present. 


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Angry, frustrated, hopeful, concerned, terrified, sad, motivated – these are some of the emotions that some of our leading climate scientists have expressed and which the composers are exploring in the new musical works. 

Dr. McMichael 

MEDIA RELEASE - 18 August 2022 

For more information or interviews please contact:

Tanya Hendy 

Communications and Media Coordinator 

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria 

0421 848 948 

Author: Tanya Hendy