29 June 2021


I think of Afrobeat as electric, hot rhythm section, horns out front, deeply funky.  That's  what I had expected at the Afrobeat jam session at Smiths.  They happen on Sunday afternoons and have been running for several months.  This was my first visit.  Not at all bad, but not what I'd expected.  This may be, probably is, more authentic to traditional village music making in Africa.  I dunno.  It was folky, acoustic, still rhythmic, still with that tum ta-tum rhythm on the 2+, more soft and with some intriguing instruments.  One guitar-like instrument had 12 tuners and the smallest of bodies (so cute!); the bass was a double bass neck on a kick drum body.  And some more traditional instruments: lots of percussion to share around; flutes and guitars, fiddles and flugels; voice.  I enjoyed tapping a resonant box in the background, but I may have been too varied so undermining the intense, unending regularity.  It has its own mega-power that infuses and inculcates and brings out the dancing feet in the audience.  If they are not joining in somehow else.  So folky rather than funky but still strongly grooving and very inclusive.  A nice and friendly scene for a cold Sunday arvo.

The Afrobeat jam session happens every Sunday afternoon, 1-3pm, at Smiths Alternative.

28 June 2021

B-ing late

Last year was the big Beethoven birth bicentennial but many events were lost due to Covid.  I just got to one, a year late.  It was Black Mountain Piano Quartet playing two Beethoven piano quartets, one written at age 15, another much later, and two pieces written to Beethoven.  Local composer Michael Hardy, an old mate from the Patents Office and also the Blues Club, presented two world premieres, A scherzo for Ludwig and Ludwig in Wonderland.  Mike introduced the works as influenced by Beethoven's playfulness, thus the scherzo, obvious enough, but Wonderland?  Beethoven after too much listening to Steve Reich and Terry Riley.  Amusing.  And both were solid, interesting works.  Well done.  Not to be limited (Mike is prolific!) the encore was a classical take on an Angels song, a great melody with classical harmony and quartet interplays.  Insinuating and satisfying.  The BMPQ was neat and internally responsive, perhaps a bit unsure of some of Mike's reimaginings, but very satisfying.  As for cello, Alex got a good few bass-like lines.   But think of this.  In a few hours in downtown Canberra, I've explored bell ringing in two venues and experienced 2.5 world premieres and 2 Beethoven piano quartets.  And tomorrow a touch of Afrobeat, perhaps?

 The Black Mountain Piano Quartet comprised Jason Li (violin), Thayer Parker (viola), Alex Moncur (cello) and Kathleen Loh (piano).  They played Beethoven and Michael Hardy after Beethoven and The Angels at All Saints, including 2.5 world premieres.

27 June 2021

Evading the riff raff

It's learning all round, from the article in the Canberra Times that morning, through to the visits to two bell towers just a few hours later.  I thought there was only one church tower with tuned bells in Canberra, at St Paul's Manuka, and the tuned bells at the Carillon, played as they are, with several fists and feet on several big keyboards.  But no.  There are two other bell towers, each with 8 tuned bells, but not played by 8 ringers (as are the bells of St Paul's) but by one or two ringers, using the "Ellacombe Chiming Apparatus", or more simply Ellacombe chimes.  It's a mechanism that uses static bells struck with in internal hammer.  The alternative is bells that are rotated 360deg and called Full circle ringing, in which each bell requires its own ringer.  Apparently this new apparatus was devised in 1821 by Rev. Ellacombe of St Mary's Church, Bitton, Gloucestershire, to avoid reliance on unruly carousing travelling bell ringers.  They were a bawdy lot!  Whatever, we have two instances here in Canberra and they were rung for the international bicentennial celebrations of the invention.  First bells were in NZ, then through the world, played at Noon in each location, but due to a prior booking, one was delayed here.  Suits me: I heard them both.  First up was St Andrew's Forrest, our deco-influenced post-WW1 not-quite cathedral that is and probably will remain sadly unfinished (lacking a dome and entrance).  I entered as they started, so heard the much more firm and glorious sound outside.  They started with a lengthier Plain Bob Major, then into a series of popular tunes, much shorter and simpler.  The bob and peels and the rest, written for the bells, are intricate mathematical expressions of moving orders.  Quite fascinating.  The popular tunes are just melodies played in a major scale.  Then on to St John's, Reid.  Again we could watch the bell ringer/s.  We arrived a little later and just heard the simpler songs.  The bells at St Andrew's are mysteriously tuned in G# (=Ab, a jazz key) and are in lovely tune.  Those at St John's are in G and not quite so accurately tuned, perhaps showing their age.  Either way, they are delightful.  Bells are a strange obsession that I touched on some time ago and enjoy the occasional visit, I think when St Paul's sounded a half peel for some Civic ceremony.  Maybe they rang for the Queen's visit too.  To learn something about the craft, check out the free app Methodology (Android).

Bell ringers at St Andrew's Forrest and St John's Reid rang in the bicentennial of Ellacombe chimes.

25 June 2021

Travel in these days of Covid

It's one of the pleasures of Canberra to get invited to an Embassy event.  I know one Hungarian well, and on the night I discovered several others that I've known.  And discovered some classic Hungarian foods, including the luscious Dobos torte, and wines.  The main event was a concert by Huangkai (Kaykay) Lai, a current third year student at ANUSOM, winner of various competitions, not least the 2014 Chopin International Youth Piano Competition.  He played a set of solo piano pieces: several each from (Hungarian) Liszt and Chopin, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Debussy, Peixun Chen, Tan Dun and an original piece KayKay had written.  My favourite was the Ravel.  I was fascinated by the styles of the two Chinese pieces.  They sounded programmatic  I could almost hear the goldfish jumping (do they jump?).  KayKay observed that the Chinese and French pieces had similarities, both very picturesque.  I could only agree, especially for the Debussy, Voiles, where you could just hear the wind blowing in the sails with upward flourishes of notes somewhat like those goldfish.  Whatever, it was a nice opportunity night to put on a suit and visit another country, given we can't do that in real life these days.  Another pleasant aspect of the Canberra experience.

Huangkai (Kaykay) Lai (piano) performed at the Hungarian Embassy. 

The pic is KayKay with Hungarian Cultural Attache Anita

24 June 2021

Early days

The path to becoming a musician is a long and demanding one and it's one that never reach the end, at least not until you do.  You are always learning.  But it's interesting to go back, to see and hear young musicians taking relatively early steps.  Often these steps are big ones but either way they are interesting.  Today at Wesley we saw a concert from the Music Academy of Canberra Girls Grammar School.  The music was madly varied; there were stronger and less strong parts and instruments.  Intonation, tentativeness were common early problems.  It's easy to understand.  I can still be tentative after many years.  On the other hand, dynamics were strong (they very obviously teach that!), technique, approach.  Timing sometimes was unstable with quick lines just not keeping up.  But I loved some cello playing; the bass clarinet sounded a dream; the take on Debussy was  both challenging and fascinating and nicely played; again, the dynamics were ever-present.  And just the breadth of the music was astounding.  Lickl (classical era Austrian) and Mozart, through Debussy (yes! String quartet Gmin op.10 mvt.3) on to early jazz, Chattanooga Choo Choo and Svoboda Bongil Bongil Blues through to Lennon McCartney Eleanor Rigby and Freddie Mercury Bohemian rhapsody, no less, with parts written for accompanying trio (piano, e-bass, drums).  And various combinations of Wind quintet, String quartet, Flute ensemble, Flute & Clarinet ensemble, Clarinet ensemble, Guitar ensemble and that Sax ensemble with the trio accompaniment.  Total players?  I counted 28.  Nice outing and fun.  My faves?  Debussy and Bohemian rhapsody.

Various groups from the Music Academy at Canberra Grammar Girls School performed at Wesley.

21 June 2021

Making (culture) wars

Here's my submission to the NCA on the War Memorial development.  It includes plenty that's outside their domain, but I felt I should say it.  It's been a tawdry example of culture warring and influence and looking after mates to the exclusion of others and an obvious display of our current way of making politics.  FWIW, here's what I wrote.  It will be well received in Canberra (597 of 600 submissions were against the AWM redevelopment) but of little interest outside.


I wish to state my opposition to extensive redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial. I have these points to make.

1. The redevelopment will turn the AWM from a meditative space to a museum of war.  My comment is this.  I remember travelling in Europe and visiting a war museum in Spain.  I found the experience distant and war-mongering and deeply unsatisfying.  Alternatively, I have visited the AWM and found it touching and relevant.  Sadly, that relevance is dropping.  My recent visits have given me a different feeling, more war-promotional.  Not least the fact that I sat in a theatre named after a major supplier of weaponry.  I fear for this change and feel it undermines the sanctity of the traditional, much loved building.

2. I have visited the AWM annexe and consider it quite apt for display of large military tools and materials.  This serves the purposes of a museum without undermining the sanctity of the memorial space.

3.  I fear the culture war aspects of what is spoken as our "Anzackery".  Large monies have been spent on WW1 commemorations.  Australia overspent the next largest spending country, Germany, by many times, ~4x).  Now the same government seeks to spend a similar amount on this AWM redevelopment while ever-ready to weep for Anzacs (viz. Scott Morrison) and undermine proper military processes (Dutton and awards for an SAS division).  Note also the claims of free speech but the readiness to question expressions when it suits (viz. SBS broadcaster and around a recent ANZAC day).

4.  The deep meaning and importance of the AWM as a historical building and as a representation of the mourning of Australians, esp after WW1/WW2.  Included in this is a real questioning of war and Australia's readiness to attend others' wars.  WW1 is a prime example of doing others' business where the business itself was deeply questionable.  Vietnam is widely recognised that way too.  There are similar others.  And let us not forget the Australian colonial wars which the AWM refuses to recognise. They may not be formally recognised, but neither were several other wars by Parliament.

5. The expenditure of vast monies on changing the nature of the Memorial at the very time that other national institutions (NGA, NPG, NLA, NMA, as well as other major institutions, ABC, NAA) suffer such funding problems.  I used to work at the National Library.  From my time (~1990), the staffing has reduced from ~650 to 365 ( https://www.nla.gov.au/facts-and-figures )

6. The broad public disquiet and open disagreement with this development, the lack of real, honest, open consultation by government and the implications of such a process for our democracy.  This at a time that democracy is widely seen to be suffering throughout the world and while crony capitalism is under serious discussion as a source of corruption of federal political processes (viz. climate, media and more).

I trust you will give due consideration to my concerns and hope you will decide against approval of further work on the AWM redevelopment.

(One spelling and one capitalisation correction made from the original)

19 June 2021

(No)Show trials


It's not the first time I've gone out for Collaery and co. or at Parliament House.  It's an action of an ageing cohort.  Virtually n'ere a millennial amongst them all.  Lots of grey hair.  But we have time and we have history in marching.  Often with little effect.  The VN Moratoriums worked, in the end, and perhaps the Springboks tours.  But I've marched with the millions in Rome and London and no outcome, against WMDs and Iraq and what is now (and then, BTW!) obvious lies or misleadings.  The Bridge marches haven't led to Reconciliation but the people are changing.  So it is with Climate.  But the powers are stolid and stubborn and the times change too quickly for peoples' experience and they are just too ignorant or uninterested or misled or just uninterested and comfy anyway.  But I was out again.  So were a few others I knew.  And a retired DFAT staff member who I met at a dinner party the next evening.  Canberra is a small world.  I can't reiterate the whole story adequately, but suffice to say secret trials, endless secrecy through National Security legislation and political fiat.  A few quotes from the day will inform:  "When the rule of law returns to this country" (Bernard Collaery); "This government is every bit as bad as you imagine" (David McBride).  Or from a mate, speaking more broadly: " The Coalition is avoiding the hard but necessary work of strategic policymaking. Its energy policy, driven by climate denialism, is a shambles that has required state governments to take the lead. Its innovation policy is moving us backwards. Its manufacturing policy is limited to tax breaks for capital investment, only bringing forward future spending. The intellectual shallowness, policy nonsense, hypocrisy, spin, under-delivery and flagrant incompetence will continue until next year."  And then to hear, just today, that Witness K, behind a screen, pleading guilty, suffering mental illness, court hidden with  blacked out windows and cameras, after appropriated passports, after years of trials and pursuits, to be given just 3 months jail fully suspended.  What?  For this vast threat to our National Security?  Who are you kidding?  This was a whistle blower, a respected officer who saw something inappropriate and went through channels and got permission to inform and yet, this.  Our secret state grows.  Not to protect the public, for we know the story, but to protect government and mates.  Not the first whistle blower to reveal actions that are illegal or unethical.  And not the first whistle blower to suffer such a fate.  If we would only consider and learn.  Like Greta, I want you to panic.  But we, as electors, will probably return this dangerously veering government.  Thanks to influence and money and ideology and media and self-interest ...  and again, money.  Here's another quote to mull over:  "Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance"* (HL Mencken).

The Alliance Against Political Prosecutions convened a rally on Parliament House lawns.

* Thanks to Ian Warden for this Mencken quote, although in a totally different context - the ABC Classic 100 Countdown! (Democracy rarely music to one's ears / Ian Warden. IN Canberra Times, Sat 19 Jun 2021, Panorama, p.2-3)

Background reading from The Conversation, take your pick: collaery+witness and/or whistleblower

And more.  Sr Susan Connelly's excellent article following this very demo: Adventures in incompetence : Witness K sentenced / Susan Connelly IN Pearls & Irritations, viewed 21 June 2021 

16 June 2021

Kulcha tours

This was like a cultural tour, through time and Euro space.  AJ America was singing with Minh Le Hoang on guitar as accompaniment.  First up were 3 songs by John Dowland, Tudor England (~1600).  The originals were played on lute, but the guitar fitted.  Minh may be of a totally different background, but his Euro guitar was superb.  Just shows how all is all these days.  Then Castelnuovo Tedesco writing Spanish in 1956 and Manual de Falla with 3 more popular songs from 1914.  Amusingly, the Moorish cloth was a metaphor for the straying lover who is eventually ripped up when tired of.  Then a bit of classic Euro artsong: Schubert Die Nacht.  Then French song from 1890, Reynaldo Hahn L'heure esquise.  So we have England, Spain, France (with a Vietnamese accompanist) ranging from  Tudor to contemporary. Quite a mix and very successful.  AJ has a strong mezzo voice and could indulge at times.  Minh accompanied with the most delicate playing.  A real treat all round and not a minor lesson to boot.  Just another Wednesday at Wesley?

AJ America (mezzo soprano) was accompanied by Minh Le Hoang (guitar) at Wesley.

15 June 2021

Safe house

Well, the Drill Hall Gallery is not likely to be an unsafe space so the reference fits.  But the reference is not just to the space, but to Richard Johnson's soundscape that he prepared to accompany an exhibition at the Drill Hall.  I caught it on Sunday.  It's a soundscape, so a mix of various sounds and noises and clips, ie, recordings (we'd probably say samples, now).  Richard had gone out to collect sounds.  Llewellyn Hall provided some noise (not music this time), aircon or the like.  He used voice clips from the film Safe, thus that reference.  (Richard's more complete list: "a montage of field recordings, textural drones and sounds from the real world ... sources include industrial machinery, welding, work sites, singing air conditioning systems, crowds, walking, doors, stone rubbing, sounds for the opening night of the exhibition and excerpts from the film Safe (1995)").  Miro was there, too, and it interested me when he said that the brain finds order from these collections of otherwise unrelated sounds.  That's something the composer does in the first instance as s/he collects and mixes, but also what we do when we listen to it.  I sat with eyes closed for a while, taking it in, and was intrigued and entertained.  Now, I'm a rational type and I didn't easily  see relationships with the art, despite also enjoying that, but I was intrigued and pleased with the sounds.  And there was art, too, this being an exhibition.  Some doors with locks; some prints of house and office spaces; some photos of oldish furniture used outdoors; some colour surfaces on glass; some intriguing 3D reformations of red dirt country (interestingly, borrowed from the collection of the NGA); some splotches and neon and curtains and glass and more.  Nice outing, this one.

Richard Johnson (sound artist) created a soundscape to accompany the Out of Place exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery.

14 June 2021

Music for the people

Music for the people was the theme of the concert but I'm not sure I felt quite so secure leading up to it.  Not for the Vivaldi Autumn, which is obvious and pretty and well known, even if it is demanding in its own way.  Not for the few Scandinavian folk tunes that our leader for the event, Dan Russell of the Phoenix Collective, had discovered in recordings of the Danish String Quartet.  They were pretty and challenging in their own ways.  Initially it was for the Shostakovich.  Mention his name and it brings instant respect from fellow players ("You're playing Shosta?").  It was his Chamber Symphony and it was deliriously quick in the second movement and everyone was wary of that.  We didn't play it at full speed, but in the end we got away with it.  Fear is a great motivator for practice!  But strangely the Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso was a sleeper challenge.  It looked simple enough but the bending of time was a big issue and we ended up with Gill conducting.  That helped.  Even so, I still misplaced the final note, but hopefully it was missed.  Maybe not: Dan had good ears.  He was an impressive player, too: nimble, playful, quick and nicely emotive in note formation.  But in the end, it worked.  This group is a capable one, and as Graham McDonald said in his concert review in City News, we are " “amateur” as someone who pursues an activity for pleasure ... while non-professional, produc[-ing] entirely credible performances of interesting music".  Wow, that's one to be proud of.  Thanks to Dan and a great pleasure to be blooded by Shosta.

Musica da Camera performed Vivaldi, Scandinavian folk, Shostakovich and Saint-Saens under musical director and soloist Dan Russell (violin) at Cook.

11 June 2021


I was taken aback by a story told by a fellow at a course yesterday.  He'd taken a brochure from our local Council or the Human Future (CHF) and distributed it to acquaintances, perhaps friends, here in worldly, internationally-aware, educated Canberra and he'd struck "overwhelming resistance".  He reported only 2 in 10 gave support.  Now, I thought anyone with some awareness and intellect and recognition of science had accepted the essence of climate change and the raft of related existential risks, but no.  The science says one thing, but our comfort or social media or MSM or political misinformation or industrially-promoted confusion has had its effect.  This happened at a U3A class on Mega Threats run by CHF member Bob Douglas in the context of a talk by fellow CHF member Julian Cribb.  CHF is our local incarnation of a body to study and warn of the risks of civilisational and perhaps human species collapse, and is one of several, as in Oxford, Cambridge and elsewhere.  The leading members are John Hewson, Bob Douglas, Robyn Alders and Julian Cribb with the body much influenced by the  many influential writings of Julian Cribb.

The CHF identifies ten risks in three groups:

  • Existential risks: Global overheating; Global Poisoning; Weapons of mass destruction
  • Resource Crisis: Resource scarcity; Food insecurity; Ecological breakdown and extinction
  • Human Impacts: Pandemic disease; Overpopulation; Uncontrollable technologies; Mass delusion

Visit the CHF site to understand better each of these concepts.  The ideas are big and broad and the encapsulating titles can be baffling.  I remember Limits to growth from the 1970s and how they were ridiculed when they argued for collapse after 50years: it's looking increasingly prescient.

But my interest here is Julian's talk and his list of corresponding actions to respond to these risks.  Not sure I caught them all or summarised them precisely here, but this was my take.  And it intrigued me that this is much bigger than just CO2 measurements and dates.  This is all-encompassing change.  He had them as a neat 10 actions.  Again, not sure that my list is so organised.  He'll have a book out soon with the neat list.


  • Outlaw all nuclear weapons
  • Ban all fossil fuels by 2030 including by-products (plastics, insecticides, etc)
  • Return forests to 50% of Earth's land area (incl. Amazon, Congo, Australia) "Let's let the trees do the work"
  • Convert entire global economy to a circular economy (to deal with the resource crisis in water, soils, minerals, etc)
  • Rethink the food system (regenerative, urban farming, etc)
  • Reduce population
  • Reform the economic system of the Earth.  [Economics is only a human construct, after all]

And some suggested mechanisms:

  • "Clean up the Earth Alliance"
  • "Earth Standard Currency"  that responds to real limits of the Earth system
  • "Global Waste Platform"  (not sure I caught this one...)

So how much time have we got?  Not much!  10 years?  Again I'll quote Gramsci: "Optimism of the will; pessimism of the intellect".  The alternative is despair.

Some factoids of note mentioned by Julian:

  • 4b people already live with acute water crisis
  • Delhi, a city of 26m people, will be out of water in 2 years
  • Droughts are now double in frequency compared to 30 (?) years ago
  • It's estimated that the Earth can sustain 2b people; we are now 8b and will reach ~10b before growth turns down
  • Average IQ is dropping!  [References I found suggest -7 IQ points per generation for post-1975 birth cohort in wealthy countries]

Interestingly, the CHF is developing an Index of Survivability around these existential risks.  It will be illuminating. 

Julian Cribb spoke on actions required to respond to existential threats.

Council for the Human Future

The pic is Four Horsemen of Apocalypse / Viktor Mikhailovich Vasnetsov (1887) from WikiCommons

10 June 2021

Cups runneth over

There was a bounteous plenitude of performers at Wesley when the Scholars presented.  Not all Scholars, but 6 is lots in 40 minutes, and they were a capable lot.  Core was possibly Bernice Chua who was accompanist for both Zoe Loxley Slump and Yona Su, oboe and viola.  They swapped a little with Zoe playing two shortish Saint Saens movements, then Yona a longer Alfred Hill movement, then Zoe returning for a short Oboe tango.  Then a change of all, with Emma Warburton playing a flute on Reinecke with accompaniment by Ronan Apcar.  So a mix of performers and styles and very well received.  Bernice is now studying performance in Salzburg but I think the others are all advanced students at the School of Music.  Whatever, it was a fascinating mix of tones and composers and exposure to some seriously upcoming artists.  Two are to join the winter academy at the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra; another was performing for Megan and CIMF that very night at Ainslie Arts Centre.  That was Ronan, but he might just be a Scholar ring-in pm the day.  Either way, busy all round and impressive and it all bodes well.  Much enjoyed.

Zoe Loxley Slump (oboe), Yona Su (viola), Emma Warburton (flute), Bernice Chua and Ronan Apcar (piano) performed as Wesley Scholars at Wesley.

08 June 2021

B four

It's the fourth Beethoven symphony that I've played, thus B four.  Sadly, I was not particularly well prepared.  Endless conflicts have come up over the last two months and I've missed a mass of Maruki practices.  Even on the day, I had an invitation to a friend's birthday party that conflicted with the warmup and performance.  I dropped gear off, then got to the party then returned for the show.  No warmup.  This on a significant program: Beethoven Symphony no.7, Krommer Concerto for two clarinets and Mussorgsky Pictures at an exhibition.  B7 and Pictures are well known.  The Krommer was new to me, although apparently he's well known to clarinetists.  That was a Mozart-ish early classical concerto in three movements.  Maruki are no slouches.  We got through it all, not fabulously resonantly, but we did it and experienced the pieces and learnt so much of them.  I enjoy this experience and this exposure to the repertoire.  For we work through a very serious repertoire, just as the pros.  Just perhaps not quite so well intoned.  Then to finish off, a dinner party at home.  It was a busy weekend, but why let up?  Congrats to our crew for a massive performance.

Maruki Orchestra performed Beethoven, Krommer and Mussorgsky at Albert Hall.  John Gould (conductor) conducted.  Caroline Faulder and Beth Battrick (clarinets) soloed.

07 June 2021


I tell the story of playing one of our "best sets eva" at a wedding and everyone ate and then the DJ put on ABBA and there was a wave of humanity attacking the dance floor.   I makes you doubt the worth of that 10,000 hours.  Maybe not the inherent value, but the cost recovery.  Jazz is like that; in the other way, so is pop music.  It was like that last night.  We were off to the Harmony German Club for a session with HitMania, "the ultimate tribute to the 60s, 70s and 80s".  I like tribute bands like I like pop music.  It's comfy and nostalgic and sometimes the music is great anyway.  There's nothing like a pure melody to impress me.  Not that all this was pure melody: there was much more groove and rock and I-IV-V-I than interesting harmony, but it still entertained.  We even got up to dance at times, to YMCA and the like.  That line-dance-type things are fun and the songs attached to them are very often very loved.  Not so sure about the Chicken dance!  This is also somewhat like my experiences on cruises.  Some decent playing, some popular music, some good times, not too challenging.  HitMania was a big show band.  At least 10 appeared on stage and there was a backstager and possibly the mixer too.  That would be a busy job.  And costumes: tons of them, some jokey wigs, some revealing  tights on a few lithe Las Vegas-style dancers.  So all up, keys, drums, bass, sometimes guitar.  All singing sometimes. A main female singer plus several others who also danced and those two lithe dancers, one who sang, and a MC who also sang sometimes.  Lots of dance routines so lots of practice.  Some games with the audience and dances with them.  The local rock-n-rollers were there but they even got us up for a few tunes.  And the music?  From the Andrew Sisters Boogie-woogie bugle boy, through the 50s then some 60s rock and country then a question to the audience: "what's new in the late 70s"?  I thought punk, but they meant disco.  Wasn't that earlier?  No matter... Then 80s but I don't know that too well.  I was well into jazz and ABC Music to Midnight by then.  And some ABBA, of course.  Look, not great art, perhaps, but great fun.  I enjoy an occasional tribute band and this was bigger than most.

HitMania played at the Harmonie German Club.

05 June 2021

B6 reduction

This was Beethoven 6 Pastoral Symphony in chamber format.  Australian Haydn Ensemble look for the interesting outings and they found one here, of particular interest given how know is this piece.  I think Skye mentioned it hadn't been played for yonks and they'd discovered it in some London archives.  That's how to make an investigative period ensemble.  Good on them and quite fascinating.  This  arrangement of B6 was by Williams Watts who had introduced much of Beethoven to Britain; he'd arranged all the symphonies for 2xviolin, 2xviola, flute, cello, bass and that was the format this evening.  All fascinating history and a new and fascinating take on the symphony, if lacking the power of 50+ players.  But they did it so well and we could follow the much reduced score in our heads.  And there were some demanding lines.  AHE featured a new bassist this evening, Bonita Williams, and I could only sit and admire some very fleet playing where, in the 3rd movement, I think.  And a strong bass presence.  Some cello floored me, too, as did some delicate lines from Matt at one stage, and generally from Skye and Melissa and viola Karina, too of course.  I just tend to the bottom end.  But the concert was a big event.  Before interval were a Boccherini string sextet and a Mozart Serenade.   Very different works, although again the Mozart, Haffner Serenade, originally arranged Masi with further work by Scolari & Lim) was a chamber arrangement with some selections.  Suffice to say this was a big program with intellectual clout and some great playing.  Always love a visit to my mate in the AHE.

The Australian Haydn Ensemble played Boccherini, Mozart and Beethoven 6 at Wesley.  AHE comprised Skye McIntosh (violin, Musical director), Matthew Greco (violin), Melissa Farrow (flute), Karina Schmitz and James Eccles (viola), Daniel Yeadon (cello), Bonita Williams (bass).

03 June 2021

Touching on history

Duty calls.  I'm recording at Wesley.  This was again artsong and this time very interesting for its exploration over time.  We started with traditional Schubert lieder.  Amusingly, it was said of Schubert that he idolised Beethoven but Beethoven couldn't write Schubert when he wrote song.  Then Richard Strauss and into French chanson by Debussy, impressionistic in style and portraying modern French poetry.  Then to mid-20th-century American, with lyrics by Browning and composition by Amy Beach.  It was a fascinating passage.   Michaella Edelstein sang and Robert Schmidli accompanied.  Again, a strong combination.  Michaella has a past at the Sydney Con and then sessions in Verona and Munich and performances in the Utzon Room at the Opera House, amongst others.  Now here in Canberra: a warm welcome.  Robert has a history of performance around Canberra and further afield including a several on CJ.  So, a wonderful strong voice with a delicate and detained piano accompaniment.  Impressive.

Michaella Edelstein (soprano) sang and Robert Schmidli (piano) accompanied at Wesley.