Hearing Silence - What does a classical musician do when she loses her hearing? Flautist Elizabeth Petcu finds music with her other senses - Hilary Fennell. Elizabeth Petcu was at the height of her career when she realized she was slowly losing her hearing, and would soon need to leave her position as principal flautist in Ireland’s prestigious RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Rather than give up on music, though, Elizabeth has continued to play, observing that a ‘big part of hearing loss is your perception of your loss’. While she isn’t free from feeling deep sorrow at times, her gentle yet firm commitment to continue to create clearly carries her through the challenges of losing her hearing. In fact, she has found that she enjoys a gentle sort of synesthesia, allowing her to sense different notes as different colors. Since her musical possibilities have diminished, she has turned to creating ceramics that draw directly on her feeling for sound’s relation to colors A quiet and endearing reflection on confronting and overcoming the loss of something valuable, Hearing Silence has screened at film festivals around the world, including the Cork Film Festival in Ireland and the Seattle International Film Festival. For more on music, read Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis’s essays ‘One More Time’, on why our brains crave repetition in music, and ‘The Music in You’, on the remarkable musical abilities inherent to everyone. For more on the complexity of our senses, watch The Blind Woman Who Saw Rain.
Director: Hilary Fennell
Producer: Martha O’Neill
Editor: Mairéad McIvor
Director of Photography: Alan O’Connor
Sound Design: Patrick Drummond