3 November 2012

For Canberra’s 100th

I feel bereft and the final student concert at the Jazz School the other night had a sad, even teary, air about it. Eric Ajaye raised spirits with a dignified personal-recovery-from-adversity oration, and that’s admirable and true, at least to some degree. Joe McEvilly was leading the band and I was impressed by both his musical and personal maturity (he’s only 20!) as he avoided being overly political, recognising it was “too late for us” but maybe there was a future for others. I understand current students still don’t know what’s on offer next year. Some are leaving; some are staying to finish. One parent has told me of a student who had been offered a transfer but that it would extend his course by one year. Enrolments are down ~25% but the new Director expects full enrollment by the start of year. It’s a common expectation amongst the jazz community that no-one would come to Canberra for the new course. Perhaps students will pursue it as a second degree and that has some value and it’s cheaper. Good luck to the few worthy staff that remain (let alone those who have left). I imagine it will be a hard road to travel. This from an institution that been with us for half of Canberra’s 99 year life. I’m thinking that the Music School may have been the most popular cultural institution in Canberra. Certainly, tens of thousands of Canberrans signed a petition and all parties in the Legislative Assembly were disappointed with the ANU decision. Is this a 1975 Dismissal moment? The comparison sits easily with me. Remember the suddenness; remember the widely despised GG John Kerr; remember “Mantain the rage”; remember the rent to the Australian fabric. I can imagine an emotional void down Marcus Clarke St right now and some friends speak of it. My more cynical friends predict investments in high rise next to Llewellyn in a few years. I was terribly disappointed by the arguments presented, but the weakest must be to call up the conservative-bugbear of “elites”. How is this elite? Elite as in intellect and discovery like Nobel Prizes? Elite as in high university rankings? Elite as in musicians who are renowned and tour the world? Or elite as in Occupy’s 1% and $?m heads of corporations and too big to fail. With our whole society, even universities, taking the corporate path, it makes you wonder. Yep, the school was elite, but in performance not wealth and that seems perfectly admirable to me and Canberra was the better for its musical success. So, excuse the lack of a concert report. Suffice to say that it was very good. They are invited to play at Wangaratta, Australia’s main modern jazz festival, this weekend. That’s elite, stunningly so for a few students with original charts. But what more to say? Farewell.

Movement 9 played at the final ANU School of Music student jazz series of 2012. Movement 9 is a platform for arrangements and compositions by Joe McEvilly (baritone sax) with Ax Long (trumpet), Tom Sly (trumpet, flugelhorn), Matt Handel (alto), Oisin Smith-Coburn (tenor), Patrick Langdon (trombone), Tate Sheridan (piano), Raf Jerjen (bass) and Henry Rasmussen (drums). Eric Ajaye (bass), Miroslav Bukovsky (trumpet) and John Mackey (tenor) sat in for one tune each.

  • For a full report on the concert rather than a paean over the jazz school, see Revisiting the ninth movement
  • Cyberhalides Jazz Photos by Brian Stewart
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