The Maori traditional music ensemble opened the Conservatory’s first research lab meeting by teaching researchers a traditional Maori percussion exercise. Invited to frame the lab meeting and participate as interlocutors, they oriented us to the mountains and rivers from which we each come, performed songs emerging from the waters of their homeland, and then taught us to come into rhythm with each other.  Our research presentations, all focused on forms of listening to the Virginia coast, were thus framed by listening to Aotearoa’s coast. WAI ended the seminar by giving feedback to researchers, collectively charging us with the seriousness of our undertaking, and then closing the research space with a song honoring coastal waters. Here again, in a different way, experiences of listening are at once condition for ethics and itself an ethical relation. Listening with WAI connects our efforts to imagine coastal futures for the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the futures of other shores, to recognize how Virginia’s coastal future is linked with Aotearoa’s.

The Conservatory