25 August 2021


Covid lockdowns are good for The Pots, if not for CJ.  You may know that The Pots is my home studio project as Bassist EP.  The Pots have 3 previous albums to their name, all with release dates in 2020, although one was well before lockdowns, on New Year's day.  But the Delta variant has reached Canberra and we have more cases than ever before and we've been in lockdown pretty much from Day 1.  In fact one son and his partner have been in isolation following a Hen's night at Fision nightclub; they were negative and are out now.  But this latest lockdown has allowed me to complete another album that was just mostly just vague thoughts: one track recorded and otherwise just a string of poems/lyrics in store.  The album is Hope / The Pots and due for release in coming weeks.  It's mainly electronica/prog rock with spoken word but there's a final little mediaeval choral work.  It's Ma fin est ma commencement, a crab canon over a palindrome from Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300-1377) to which I add a post-modernist overlay.  Amusingly, it reminded me of bickering over climate, forever back and forth, so its presence.  (My albums get warnings for political themes.  Another track is a dedication to Greta.)  The National Capital Orchestra's next concert got cancelled and they called for videos of members' home music projects for their FB site thus this video.  Hope you enjoy it. 

12 August 2021

Floored again

Again, a concert of students that was unexpectedly impressive.  I should have learnt by now.  True, there was some youth on show, not least from a Year 6 student, but get into the upper school years, and it was a stunning awareness-raising experience.  Hannah Ni was the Year 6 student.  Not quite so developed, sharp, mature as the teenagers, but hugely impressive playing Kuhlau and Grieg.  I think of my weak take on AMEB 5th grade.  Sad.  I long to hear Hannah in a few years.  Then Year 11, Kenan Zhang, playing Mehul and Sibelius.  Dramatic, revolutionary, majestic.  I loved this playing.  Totally committed; authentically interpretive.  Then to Year 12.  Now this is getting serious, Jennifer Liu, playing Bach and Haydn and Chopin.  More common names.  A huge pleasure, capable, informed, mature, even seasoned if you can say that of a teenager.  I think of motley performances and shrink.  But they have a good teacher, obviously.  They come from the studio of Elena Nikulina, award winning AMEB teacher and accompanist and a graduate of the Donetsk S Prokofyev State Conservatory in the Ukraine.  They know their artistic stuff in those areas.  And what else?  They all played from memory.  Yes, all performers and, yes, all pieces.  And I heard a few lost bars but they were recovered with aplomb and they had been prepared for it.  All part of this immensely impressive teaching and its students.  A thing of joy and awe.

Hannah Ni, Kenan Zhang and Jennifer Li (piano) performed at Wesley.  Hannah, Kenan and Jennifer are all students from the studio of Elena Nikulina (piano teacher).

05 August 2021

The seduction of brass

Perhaps seduction is not a think to consider as you watch an army band in uniform, khaki, stripes and the rest, but close your eyes and listen and the professional chops and bell-like clarity of the brass is obvious.  And you wouldn't start a seduction with Wagner, either, especially a funeral march, but it was a work of delicious wonder, to lead into a varied program from training dragons through to jazzy doo-dah from Stephen Foster and that infectious tune Brazil and some inescapable (and ever welcome) Bach and a combination from the authentic religious brass of the Salvos.  I used to see them occasionally in the suburban streets, marching their beliefs in 4/4.  There was variation of combinations, too, in this concert.  Three big works with mostly all the performers and four smaller works, each for a quartet of an instrument: trumpets on Bach; horns or Dragons; trombones on that jazzy Doo-dah suite; euphos and tubas on Brazil.  It all worked a treat.  Fun or lively, serious or serene or funereal, these were immensely beauteous tones, soft and rich and loud, well intoned and tongued.  Just a huge pleasure.  I must get to the RMC band again in future.  They play pretty regularly and cheaply for the public, at Canberra Theatre or Llewellyn, symphonic or concert or brass band, proceeds to charity, and those uniforms and always that satisfying professionalism.

The Royal Military College Band Brass Group played at Wesley Church under Major Darren Cole (CO, MD) and Cpl Justin Lingard (Conductor).