A Nature Documentary

Louis Dillon

Bringing Music to Life

This video was produced in partnership with Music at Christ Church Cathedral.

Constantly searching for a state of calm, Louis Dillon finds himself turning to nature to quiet his mind. In his Music Alive recital, A Nature Documentary, Louis invites viewers to his outdoor sanctuary, hoping to bring us the same sense of comfort that it brings him.

“I’ve always felt most at home in nature. Calmness isn’t my mind’s default state (especially this past year), so whenever I’m able, I sit in nature to observe what’s going on around me. I make up stories about the animals and insects and plants that cross my path, imagining their motivations, their struggles, their desires. Nature helps me slow down and understand stillness, and inevitably my own problems shrink in comparison.

That’s why I fell in love with Maurice Ravel’s setting of Jules Renard’s Histoires Naturelles. From the first listen, it quickly became one of my all-time favourites. Like me, the poet seems to find both peace and humour in nature, so when Pacific Opera Victoria asked me to create a video project for one song, the hardest decision was picking my favourite.

Anyone who lives in Victoria knows where to find prancing peacocks. I chose “Le Paon” (The Peacock) for exactly this reason: while most bird filming requires a maddening combination of extreme patience, expensive equipment, and John-Cena-esque camouflage, a peacock’s survival instinct leaves something to be desired. These majestic birds—especially the ones who live in Beacon Hill Park—are entirely indifferent to the presence of people. After getting to know them during this project, I’m beginning to think they enjoy the attention.

Renard’s dry, tongue-in-cheek writing style also emulates another love of mine: BBC’s nature documentaries, specifically Planet Earth as narrated by the talented Sir David Attenborough. The mannerisms and tone are identical: Attenborough observes, comments, and then observes some more. He imbues his subject with personality and relatability—in other words, a story. In turn, Ravel’s piano part evokes Planet Earth’s scoring; as the music mimics the movements and moods of its subjects, so does Ravel in his creation—at least, that’s how I imagine his creative process. All I had to do was watch and listen the birds play out the drama so eloquently described in the music.” – Louis Dillon, June 2021

Bass-baritone Louis Dillon owes his love of singing to his mother, a voice teacher. He currently studies with Ingrid Attrot and Nancy Argenta while completing a diploma in Vocal Performance at the Victoria Conservatory of Music.