27 November 2015

Another goal

It was Simon Milman's Goal to Hurl again, this time in the noisier environment of Hippo with his less experimental repertoire. I just looked up my last writeup of G2H at Hippo: the band was the same, and obviously so were several tunes. All written by Simon and developed by this band. Fabulous band; great and varied tunes. Original tunes are such a pleasure after endless Real Book charts (as good as they are) and these were of a style and era that's a favourite of mine. What styles? Swing, groove, ballad, slow groove, calypso, reggae, a Nino Rota amusement (something like a polka 2-feel), something in 6, something intervallic with a slow 2-feel, a fast post-bop reharmonised blues and a slow dotted-feel with country openess to finish. Witty, informed, varied. Always with a strong bass groove, embellished drums, some ecstatic high guitar (one solo took the sound of a single note organ line - astonishing and unexpected but fitting) and Tom's huge, bluesy tone and unforced chromaticism. Totally different from their outing just days before, playing experimental guided improv at Ainslie Arts Centre. Such a great pleasure.

Goal to Hurl are Simon Milman (bass, compositions), Tom Fell (tenor), Matt Lustri (guitar) and Luke Glanville (drums). G2H played at Hippo.

25 November 2015

Tremenda, sometimes lacrimosa

It's that time of year when the final concerts happen. I have two orchestral concerts coming over two weekends, but this was our choir, Harmonia Monday, presenting its open day session. HM is called a choral study group. That's about right, because the music is great and a challenge for us. It's led by two stallwarts of the local choral scene: Oliver Raymond and Sheila Thompson. This session included three pieces from Mozart Requiem under Oliver (Dires irae, Rex tremendae and Lacrimosa) and two from Mendelssohn Elijah under Sheila (He that shall endure to the end and Oh come every one that thirsteth). As well as Ascendit Deus (mid C16th, from Peter Philips), an earthy, perhaps suggestive, piece of Victoriana from Ciro Pinsuti (Goodnight, goodnight, beloved) , a lovely Shaker song called Simple gifts and a gospel piece, Deep river. Also Faure and another. It's all a challenge, I am too ill-prepared, but it's glorious the times the harmonies sit nicely. An enjoyable outing.

Oliver Raymond and Sheila Thompson led the Harmonia Monday choral studies group for its open day concert.

  • Thanks to MozartForum and Wikicommons for the Mozart autograph pic, Requiem dies
  • 22 November 2015


    So said Simon Milman as he introduced the first set of his band Goal to Hurl. Jokingly. This was experimentation that I could easily enjoy: in the jazz tradition, informed chops, skills and intellectual exploration. It might have been a mystery, but we were let in on the secrets so we had some bearings. It's a skill of note. I was mightily impressed, intrigued but dumbfounded. It was not easy to imagine doing this. The first set was a series of 7 (read Septology) x 6-minute explorations guided by the most macro of charts. Stopwatches coordinated to start, then two minutes segments each guided by a simple instruction, then an end. The septology was: Density; Dynamics; Timbre; Articulation; Tempo; Extend-truncate; Duration. Otherwise this was all improvisation and intense listening. A rock beat and jazz swing appeared, some bowing, some more lyrical sax later after less tonal matters, a delightful but very background guitar solo line, bass slides and extended intervals. Nothing much planned but an intriguing and convincing investigation. The second set was also guided at a macro level. Simon called it Combination music, solos and groupings of 2 or 3 instruments, passing through the band, 4 parts again of 6 minutes each comprising 2 minutes solo then 2 minutes duo then 2 minutes trio, then start again with different permutations. More listening; more improv; different guiding framework. Then a small recapitulation as an encore. Again, intriguing and very successful. This is richly jazz-inspired experimental that I can immerse myself in with great pleasure. Loved it.

    Goal to Hurl played at the Ainslie Arts Centre for the Confluence series. G2H are led by Simon Milman (bass) with Tom Fell (tenor), Matt Lustri (guitar) and Luke Glanville (drums).

    21 November 2015


    This was an ANU School of Music showcase. Six outfits: two classical, three contemporary cum improvisational. They were playing for a few Music Ensemble prizes from the Friends of the School. The two classical were all guitars. The rest were a collection of varied jazz cum contemporary with an experimental improv trio which was pretty much unlike everything else. As is this music. There were judges' prizes and also people's choice awards. First up for classical was the Wattle Guitar Quartet playing Piazzola and Bizet. I particularly enjoyed the second Piazzola, La Muerte del Ange, swinging and edgy and with a fairly challenging harmony. They were later followed by the guitar duo of Andrew Blanch and Callum Henshaw performing Nigel Westlake and Paulo Bellinati. The Westlake was particularly gorgeous with changing time and slithery triplets and such groupings. This pair played it was great confidence and professionalism, lovely balance and gentleness and an easy take on the complex time plays. They won the Judges' award and the Wattle Quartet won the People's Choice award. The classicals started off and were intermixed with the other bands.

    The others were a varied mix. This award was for "Jazz and Contemporary music, including jazz, contemporary, improvisatory and popular music". So what a mix, especially after a pair of classical guitar ensembles. Sev Quartet started with a jazz set, in improvised piece called Retrospect and a take on Beautiful love. Varied time feels, double bass, clear playing, perhaps my favourite playing I've heard from Eddie Bernasconi on Beautiful love, swing and groove and various changes. Then the ANU Improvisation Ensemble reduced to three players for the day. A cat amongst pigeons. Piano, bass viol, electronica and bows and ancillary noise makers or alterers; no groove, no charts, much ear and tone and sound and colour. It's a different world and the suggestion to "enjoy the sound, don't worry too much about the music" was apt. Then Three Men One Chamber, a jazz trio playing with e-bass and loops and effects and the rest. Floating or busy or processed or with accompanying sampled voice. I liked the feels and the richness of studio-like processed sounds. I asked after about influences: Explosions in the sky and Toe (Jpn). Finally, a '70s funk outfit with heavy 16th grooves and very clear melody, few chords, simple direct grooves. Takes me back and nicely played. This was the Hugo Lee band with two original compositions from their recent CD. HLBand won both the judges' and people's choice prizes, presumably for their obvious clarity and drive. My fave was 3M1C even though they often disappeared over pedals and weren't so sharp, but the processed tones sounded new and rich to my ears. But vintage keeps being new again and HLBand was certainly sharp.

    Wattle Guitar Quartet comprised Jeffrey Cheah, Emma-Shay Gallenti-Guilfoyle, Cassandra Low and Alex Clark). Sev Quartet comprised Eddie Bernasconi (trumpet), Ben Forte (guitar), Alec Brinsmead (drums) and Brendan Keller-Tuberg (bass). Andrew Blanch and Callum Henshaw played guitar. The ANU Improvisation Ensemble comprised Amelia Watson (piano), Ben Drury (bass viol, Kaoss pad) and Ben Harb (electronics). Three Men, One Chamber were Haydn Fritzlaff (drums), Stephen Read (guitar) and Brendan Keller-Tuberg (e-bass). Hugo Lee Band comprised Hugo Lee (alto, EWI), Ben Forte (guitar), Jack Schwenke (e-bass) and Alec Brinsmead (drums).

    18 November 2015

    Another Wednesday

    Wesley's Wednesday lunchtime concerts are a little pleasure in the working week. This one was Robert Schmidli. I've heard him perform various piano pieces over time, both at Wesley and elsewhere. This program attracted me: Bach, Beethoven and Liszt. A Bach Toccata (Cmin BMV911) with all its sequences and counterpoint and intelligence and relentlessness. It's hasher on a modern piano but still an inevitable pleasure. Then a Beethoven rondo (Alla ingharese quasi un capriccio, Gmaj, Op.129). Almost bluesy, lively, repetitive with continuing change in time and more. Then three pieces from Liszt. Chapelle de Guillaume Tell (apparently on Lake Lucerne) was darker and telling of war. Au bord d'une source is rippling water, impressionistic, soft. Hungarian Rhapsody no.6 S.224 is a collection of folk songs in four parts. Robert finished with a lovely and very short (~55 sec) Prelude from Scriabin; pretty and pensive. Another lovely outing from Robert and very well received.

    Robert Schmidli (piano) played Bach, Beethoven, Liszt and Scriabin at Wesley.

    13 November 2015

    Here there and everywhere

    It sometimes happens that musicians are fairly obvious, and not just to other musicians. At least they are when they are carrying a violin case. I sat across the aisle on the plane to Adelaide and chatted with Julia (of the violin case) who turned out to be from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. So we discussed Beethoven and bowing and the rest, as is my habitual conversation these days (sorry to Julia). But I got an invitation to the Adelaide Symphony playing a light concert in its home, the majestic Adelaide Town Hall. It took me back. I saw a few classical concerts there in my university years and even some jazz (not least Dave Brubeck on this very stage). The concert was light but Mum and I enjoyed it a great deal. A decent orchestra playing for its fans. The program was a selection from ABC FM's Classics 100 list, chosen by the subscribers. The start was 6.30pm for an early evening. The title was Classics unwrapped, all popular classics, mostly single movements or excerpts. This is not the exact order, but it started with Vivaldi Spring and included Smetana Moldau, Pachelbel Canon in D, Massenet Thais Meditation, Khachaturian Adagio for Spartacus and Phrygia, Elgar Cello concerto 1st mvt, Brahms Hungarian dance no.5 Gmin, Beethoven Symphony no.6 F maj Pastorale finale, and an lively encore (don't remember which). We knew every theme, of course, but I hadn't matched titles to every theme. Not too taxing for players or audience, but entertaining and easy and an early night. Guy Noble conducted and he was similarly popular and svelte of voice and just a little suggestive for a modern audience. I looked out for Julia and watched basses and admired the decorated hall. We met with Julia and chatted after the gig. She'd played Mozart in costume, masked and bewigged (as in Venetian Martedi Grasso = Mardigras) with a string quartet a few nights before in this place: booked for a commercial dinner or some such. Such is the life of a professional musician. The costumes looked great in the pics on her mobile. Much fun and hilarity, I expect. Small world. Hi to Julia. Enjoyed the concert. And on the way to the car we heard a little trio playing Corcovado to a small audience in a pub in Franklin Street. No names, but the singer's voice suited very nicely.

    Guy Noble (conductor) led the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in a Classic unwrapped concert of music chosen by the audience from the ABC FM Top 100 list.

    9 November 2015

    CDs and live

    Now this was fun. ArtSound had its annual open day. There was music and wine tasting and sausage sizzle and a book and CD fair all day. I indulged mightily in CDs: quite a splurge. Wayne Kelly was there with Angela Lount and Dan McLean. Tony Magee and Dave O'Neal were in a trio with fiddle and three harmony voices and it was magic. I wondered if our jazz might be too heavy, but it worked OK sprinkled with Beatles (And I love her) and Nirvana (Teen spirit). Otherwise it was mostly hard bop with two feels and walks and solos. But it's nice to go to air, to have someone to introduce you and an audience. Nice outing. Thanks to Chris and ArtSound for our first AS broadcast.

    Tilt played for the ArtSound Open day. Tilt are James Woodman (piano), Eric Pozza (bass) and Dave McDade (drums).

    8 November 2015

    Out of a prior age

    The Mikado is another visit for us to the Canberra/Queanbeyan musical theatre scene. As before, I'm most impressed. This time, I could hear all the players (I'm told everyone was miked) and there were some great performances if against a very bland backdrop. I'm not of the class of English-heritage baby-boomers who are nostalgic for D'Oyly Carte and it's very out of time these days, so it's not particularly a favourite of mine. The caricature of the Japanese might be thought distasteful these days and the plot sexist and the central act of beheading is too agonisingly current to even be questioned as tasteless. But they were different days and it shows. I asked about known songs before the show and Megan and Sally both remembered "three little girls from school are we / we come from a ladies' seminary", but the second act had a string of tunes even I recognised: The flowers that bloom in the spring and several others that I can't recall from titles in the program. Perhaps my favourite was a lovely vocal quartet called a madrigal, but in the program as Brightly dawns our wedding day. The four unaccompanied voices worked wonderfully together and the harmonies were clear and sweet. We enjoyed the song of list of local criminals (featuring a string of currently controversial names) and another sung by the Mikado himself about suitable punishments (including a mention of Andrew Barr for Light rail). You get the picture. Megan tells me rewording these songs is a tradition: another English public-school mannerism, I guess. The Ko-Ko (Lord High Executioner of Titipu) was played by Matt Greenwood and he stole the show for me, although there were very capable Mikados and Nanki-Poos and Yum-Yums and Pish-Tushs and Pooh-Bahs and various girls and men and ladies. But it's all very silly (which it's clearly supposed to be) and not really my thing. But then, I lack the relevant heritage. Once again, well done to the Queanbeyan Players.

    The Mikado was presented by the Queanbeyan Players at TheQ theatre.

    7 November 2015

    Eric's fingers all over it

    What got me about Eric Ajaye's trio called Phingerprintz was just how big and full was the sound. After all, it was just a trio, and I had just come from a set by a jazz orchestra just down the road. It's a piano trio (loosely described) with Eric leading on electric upright bass and electric bass for the funkier tunes, with Damien Slingsby on a Nord with a range of keyboard sounds and Steve Richards on drums. Steve held it with steady and unflinching correctness and occasional fills. The busy-ness was from Eric and Damien, both busy and full-toned. Eric's slides and embellishments are a dream to hear, low strung and slithery and deft as they are. Damien was busy with comping or active soloing with organ or e-piano or whatever tone, subtly manipulating the Nord for edge and depth. Just three players, but lots to listen to and an implausibly big sound. Eric was a pleasure, too, as the genial host, starting with a "welcome to the living room" and continuing with genial and sincere anecdotes, for the room and also for listeners on the live ArtSound radiothon broadcast. I just caught the second set. I'm presuming the tunes are originals, given Eric's introductions. A '70s sounding Realisations, a swinger called Upside to the downside with a theme of optimism, a ballad called Nowhere. Then a change to electric bass for a slow groove called It's done as you believe, Cannonball Adderley's Mercy mercy mercy with a slap-bass twist, and another slap number dedicated to Bill Withers, Lean. Such a good little trio; I just hope they appear some more around town. Funky and big and with plenty of chops but also with a purpose and the most affable presence.

    Phingerprintz was led by Eric Ajaye (bass) with Damien Slingsby (keyboard) and Steve Richards (drums).

    6 November 2015


    It was a small surprise when I looked at the stage and saw not one woman. The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra were playing at the Street Theatre. This was just the day after Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup so I guess I'm just a little more aware. There are women in jazz, great successes in Australia and internationally, but no women for this gig. Strange. I'm sure they be welcome: just an observation. This was a short concert of just one set, presumably a Canberra visit on the way back from Wangaratta and presumably playing the set they'd have done there. James Muller was up-front as feature performer and composer. He's a world shattering artist, so a huge pleasure to catch anytime. Next to him was Tom Botting, prizewinner in the this year's National Jazz Awards for Bass at Wang (3rd after 1 Sam Anning, 2 Alex Boneham). The main theme was compositions by James Muller arranged by Florian Ross or Dave Panici. The tunes were mostly strong, driving numbers: Kaboom, Piledriver, Mr Dodo. There was an "ear worm" that was just that by Florian Ross, nicely grooving with little features moving through piano, guitar and more. There was a dedication to Beethoven, now called Eindhoven, by James. This may have been the bass solo vehicle. There were several little features for drums. There were two Sydney Con students/graduates who were new or sitting in (alto and drums were introduced). Otherwise there were several familiar faces. But most importantly, there was the excitement of a fabulously precise, perfectly intoned horn section playing with intense dynamics and some seriously nice soloing over a capable and satisfying rhythm section. That's the pleasure of a large ensemble to me, the big, rich tonality and revealing harmonies. This band has it in spades after 4 albums and 12 years of performance and international collaborations. A huge pleasure.

    Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra featuring James Muller performed at the Street Theatre.

    5 November 2015

    Recital pre recital

    It's recitals season at the School of Music and various invitations are coming in and an occasional public performance in lieu, or in prep. Aaron Chew did two performances this week, I guess both in preparation for his Master recital. I missed one; heard the other. This was at Wesley Music Centre. The session was called SBS Sonatas (SBS = Scarlatti, Beethoven, Schumann). Scarlatti was short. Two little sonatas form a large set that he wrote: D minor K1 allegro and A major K208 Adagio e cantabile. Very attractive baroque keyboard music. Then a Beethoven piano sonata. I missed the series at this year's Canberra International Music Festival, so take note of Beethoven piano sonatas when they appear on stage, and they seem to, reasonably frequently. This one is also known as "Les Adieu" and recounts Archduke Rudolph's departure from Vienna in response to a French army (siege of Vienna, May 1809) and his later return. Interestingly, I am practising for Beethoven Symph no.3 Eroica which famously had the dedication to Napoleon removed. (A plug: Maruki Orch, Albert Hall, 2pm Sun 6 Dec; concert also includes JS Bach, Brahms, Gluck). The Schumann was in Gmin op.22, all powerful and engrossing and improvisatory and virtuosic. I liked that Aaron introduced the Beethoven with a snippet of melody to look out for. I was amused (and mightily impressed) when he slipped with a page turn for the last page of Schumann: the music dropped to the ground but he carried on to the end regardless. (He played the other works from memory). Considerable work is evident here; but that's to be expected. A great pleasure.

    Aaron Chew (piano) performed sonatas by Scarlatti, Beethoven and Schumann at Wesley.

    3 November 2015


    James Whiting was touring a new album and his offsiders here in Canberra were a choice group gathered at Gary France's Groove Warehouse. It's the second concert I've caught there, and it's a nice intimate space, surrounded by the paraphernalia of percussion and with a very nice grand piano. A keen little venue. Gary was playing, and Eric Ajaye and Tate Sheridan, all great musicians and too little encountered in recent times following the devastation at ANU. James is a hot vibes player, this his second album was recorded in NYC, he's commencing a Doctorate in 2016 and he's heavily involved in all manner of musics, classical and musical theatre. Impressive. I enjoyed his mostly gentle and thoughtful originals and particularly grooved to an edgy jazz/rock piece with a heavily funky beat and odd twisted melody. Great: this is something I like immensely. He mentioned Gary Burton, as vibes players do, used four mallet for some and two for others, and could lay down some very tuneful solos and effective comping. The rest of the band were no slouches, of course. I particularly enjoyed hearing Eric after some time: smooth and very cleverly embellished on EUB and funky and driving on e-bass (both 5-string, high-C). Gary was absolutely spot on, tight, sharp, edgy and professionally sparing with his fills: nothing overplayed and superbly solid. Tate is a Triple-J unearthling and soon to be touring with Elton John, no less. He's playing with precision and care and some very nice chromatic play. Still early in this career, but seriously notable from the earliest days. They did play some covers: James Taylor, My foolish heart, but mostly originals, mostly from James' recordings, and that superbly funky slap number with fragmentary time and melody was my fave. Great night out, attractive and varied music and a nice catch up.

    James Whiting (vibes) led a quartet with Tate Sheridan (piano), Eric Ajaye (bass) and Gary France (drums) at the Groove Warehouse on his CD launch tour.

    2 November 2015

    Royalty of the popular song

    Many thanks to BMA for the (re-)discovery that Burt Bacharach is a genius, at least of popular music. It's nothing new or nothing hidden, of course, but to experience of revelation was a huge pleasure. BB came to play on Friday, with his band, at Royal Theatre. I won a competition for tix from BMA so we went and it's not something I planned or expected. There were numerous baby boomers, apt given the price and the period of BB's fame. Looking at his hits, I realise they are placed mainly through the '60s. There were also some respected local musos; we oddly found ourselves sitting behind one. First up, a megahit, What the world needs now. Then Burt introduced a medley ... all megahits. Then a few more songs; all memorable and remembered. Later, a medley of film hits ... you guessed it: works of genius: Look of love, Arthur's theme(When you get lost between the moon and NYC, the best thing you can do is fall in love). Alfie came later as a solo. Wives and lovers was his. So were The Man who shot Liberty Valance, 24 hours from Tulsa, Raindrops keep falling on my head, Do you know the way to San Jose. They all sang his songs: Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Isaac Hayes, Sergio Mendes, Herb Alpert, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, Cilla Black, Gene Pitney, Cher, Shirley Bassey ... everyone. I say a little prayer for you, Close to you, Reach out, Don't go breaking my heart, I don't know what to do with myself, This guy's in love with you, What's new Pussycat. What is this? I know virtually every song and every song was a megahit. And he's just playing snippets of each to fit more into a two-hour set. Nice arrangements; nice, understated but wonderfully correct band; great harmonies from the three singers and some solo voices that nicely match the originals. Great songs. I notice various intriguing twists of harmony or time; the most perfect of intervallic melodies (how good a melody is Alfie!); many clever lyrics mostly by Hal David (. Mark Sutton said afterwards that the drummer (I didn't catch the names) was a top studio player. The band was touring the world with BB. It's the same band you see playing the same songs at Glastonbury 2015 on YouTube. Check it out. Very, very neat. Notably, playing to a new generation before Kanye West appears. New generation? Definitely. Burt Bacharach is touring at age 87 (b.1928). Still going strong. His voice not what it was but the aura and portfolio is as impressive as ever. Obviously I enjoyed it - actually I sat back in awe. Thanks to BMA for this realisation. A popular song composition genius came to Canberra.

    Burt Bacharach and his band played at the Royal Theatre. And the band? Three vocals (2xfemale; 1xmale), drums, bass, keys/vocals, trumpet, alto/tenor saxes, violin, another keys, sometimes Oliver Bacharach (son) on piano, BB piano/vocals. I didn't catch the names.

    1 November 2015

    Death wish

    The biggest issue in Canberra politics these days is the tram (for those anti) / light rail (for those pro). For this post, I will use lr, at least for now... I have an opinion, but I also have friends with differing opinions, so I decided to test myself by attending an open seminar session on the case for Canberra's light rail convened by the University of Canberra's Institute for Governance an Policy Analysis and chaired by ex-Chief Minister Jon Stanhope. Stanhope was academically neutral, although I read in recent days in the paper that previous plans for light rail in his time had not stacked up. This seminar brought together UCan urban planner Barbara Norman (pro) and economist David Hughes (anti). They are both relevantly knowledgeable, having both held highly relevant senior positions in Canberra's local public service (ACT planning and major project analysis at ACT Treasury). Barbara spoke first, arguing for resilience, integrated "multimodal transport", "doing nothing is not an option", expected growth, "excellent opportunities for innovation" (innovation, in trams?), climate change, healthy cities, social justice, while admitting she is "not an expert on cost/benefit". David argued that lr was a "poor project" with low cost/benefit (0.5) on key measures, low carbon savings ($13m), which "doesn't do much" / "impact is negligible", that core benefits (including transport, health, congestion and environment) are just 40% of total benefits, while 60% is other questionable benefits (the same balance for Sydney's lr is 95%-5%), and that risks are on "just about everything" (budget, disruption, private involvement, patronage, future of planning and technologies).

    Questions were primarily themed anti. The first doubted the cost. Barbara responded that "stars aligned" in terms of PM, ACT government, a prepared industry (I might add interest rates). David observed history of government project cost overruns, the enormity (esp of the full plan) against the ACT budget, especially given the Gunghalin line is the easiest to justify. Then climate change, town centre planning in Canberra, experiences with other cities (David argues experience is poor, claiming to use the Government's own numbers and examples - Gold Coast, Perth, Portland, etc; Barbara argues for), Barbara mentioned recent articles in the Canberra Times, including Ross Gittins in support of public transport (but ignored an editorial, perhaps the same day, on dangers of the project), "religious conversions" of tram supporters, input from Gen X/Y (David interestingly noted that Braddon has largely developed without government involvement), implications for transport and other costs and government secrecy, comparisons with Melbourne and the argument over health and activity (I hear the tram will only have 3 stops on Northbourne Ave, so walking is not optional), social equity, pleasantness of tram travel, contracts. The audience responses were sometimes one-sided. Most questions were reasonable and reasoned, although some were of the "I liked using trams on holiday in Europe" variety.

    So my summation? I am very concerned about climate change and interested in city development, but I call this a tram. It seems to do little new, have numerous problems (infrequent stops, no ability for passing), will cost lots and divert government monies, is not supported by infrastructure or economic experts, is inflexible (isn't the recent tunnel problem an argument against such an inflexible system?) ... there's more but I can't be bothered writing it all here. It's certainly enough to have me writing letters to Rattenbury, Corbell and Barr. As for the arguments, I found David's detailed and evidence-rich but Barbara's vague and wishful. As I see it, this is a lose-lose situation for this centre-left voting public: Labor/Greens win next year's election and we have an expensive project of little real benefit that that will constrain good spending, or Libs win and cancel lr with significant cost in monies and trashed reputation and readiness to explore future public transport options. So, why death wish? It's the expression used by a guy I sat next to and talked with. He'd been chummy with Stanhope before the meeting and obviously moved in those circles. As he said, and I've been recently thinking, governments reach a used-by date; this looks like Labor's death wish. I reckon he might be right.

    Jon Stanhope chaired a session on Canberra light rail under the auspices of the University of Canberra's Institute for Governance an Policy Analysis. UCan urban planner Barbara Norman and economist David Hughes spoke for and against the tram.

  • Lecture website with recommended reading
  • 31 October 2015

    Hearing angels

    It's a children's choir so it's supposed to sound like angels. Someone said that. It might me an old concept and world-view but it's got some truth and this group did sound like angels, perfectly intoned, soaring pitches, gently managed dynamics. This was the Czech Philharmonic Children's Choir. I'm not sure how I knew they were playing, but OI heard of the gig and it intrigued me. It's one benefit of having an embassy in your town. The turnout was decent. The concert was free. The location was St Andrew's, Forest, the unfinished but impressive church facing Parliament House and Capital Hill on the Manuka side. With these perfect performers, I realised how good were the acoustics. And the decent organ and available piano. But of course the stars were the children. They were mostly girls with just a few boys. A string of sopranos out front that would hit the most pure of notes. The harmonies mostly sweet, but moving into twentieth century and chromatics for one or two songs. The words mostly of praise, religious, from the mass, often in latin. Just a few popular numbers, a Ukrainian folk tune and a Czeck moutain song (Hoj, hura hoj! = O Mountain, O!) One song had three girls moving out of the choir and standing just in front of us, perhaps 2 metres away, and the clarity of voices and the precision of their harmony was breathtaking, to be accompanied by the choir and organ. Petr Louzensky, the choirmaster, told me after that this group wins all the competitions it enters. I'd believe it. They have performed at La Scala, Carnegie Hall, Moscow Conservatoire; they have toured five continents. They perform around Prague, in various concert halls, the National Theatre, with the Czech Philharmonic and the National Opera and more and as a bigger choir and have recorded over 50 CDs. And have done for some time: they were established in 1923. Fabulous discovery.

    The Czech Philharmonic Children's Choir performed at St Andrew's Forrest. They were led by Petr Louzensky (choirmaster) and accompanied by Jan Kalfus (piano, organ).