tender and insightful reminder to notice the wonderful music of life

THE FLYING ORCHESTRA
by Clare McFadden - University of Queensland Press, 2010
ages baby to grown-up / Australiacoffee table, heartwarmers


Which moments in life matter to you? A new Baby? Learning to ride a bike? An evening under a night sky sequinned with stars? A restless night spent worrying? It’s during moments like these that The Flying Orchestra comes to town.

This is an especially tender and insightful book about moments in life that seem to carry their own music – happy, celebratory, sad, or worrisome. It provides a musical score to big and small life events. 

The flying orchestra comes when the angels seem to have been blown away and they

"play their most beautiful music for no reason in particular, but just because someone is listening." 

Some days, when they’ve been blown out of town, it seems that the music is gone. But then it starts again,

"as beautiful as before, in all the places they have been."

That’s how it works, don’t you think? Sometimes we hear the music of life and sometimes it is just gone for a time. But, always, the music starts again.

The artwork is welcoming – each page feels like an invitation to be part of the orchestra or part of life. I love the page where the orchestra is playing ‘under a sky milky with stars’ – there’s a stark white gum tree, wire fence and grey grasses – I can almost smell the night air.

I've given this book often as a gift, and will give many more I’m sure - partly because it’s simply beautiful and partly because there is such hope and reassurance in its pages. So far, I’ve given it to:

Expectant parents
– because they can relate to the idea of music playing at the birth of their child, but also because so many of the other moments when The Flying Orchestra plays are waiting for them.

A teenager leaving home for the first time
because it helps to remember that missed trains, sleepless nights and sad moments are all part of the music of life.

Parents who are having a hard time with teenagers
because it's soul-strengthening to remember the music of that child as a newborn, and reassuring to think of their child being watched over.

A friend who came home after living overseas for many years
because there is so much that is joyful about reunions- and I hope they heard the ‘symphony at the airport’ in celebration.

A niece who lives far away
because I hope she keeps me up to date with the music of her life.

This is also a nice book to read in conjunction with learning about different types of music – there’s a violin solo, a symphony, a concerto, and a sonata to talk about.

A special extra for me is that the pictures all depict scenes around Brisbane, the city where I live – that's the city hall clock tower - and the hospital on the page where the orchestra is playing ‘when a baby is born’ is where my last four children were born.

You can buy The Flying Orchestra via these direct links: Book Depository - Booktopia