28 September 2022


I'd been avoiding potholes while driving or otherwise in a damp and slippery cave all day, so a beer in Smiths went down very well.  I noticed it described as boho and it's spot on.  It could only be better with a seriously satisfying jazz trio, this time led by guitarist Harry Tinney with Paddy Fitzgerald and Nick McBride.  I arrived a few minutes early and they were preparing for the gig.  Harry and Paddy are friends from University but they'd just met NIck that night.  You wouldn't know as you listened, but, as Harry said, it takes lots of personal preparation to be able to just play with new people like that.  The prep on the day was walking through the charts with explanations and short plays to instruct or get some practice on the harder lines.  Then into the two sets, I think all originals from Harry.  Several mentions of Lockdowns (he was in Melbourne, after all) and effects on various people and coffee and cars.  All instrumentals.  A few ballads and a string of jazz numbers.  All sharp, clear, virtually uneffected  guitar tones.   He had a pedal board at his feet but mostly seemed to use a volume pedal, other than for one tune at the end with loops and delays and perhaps more.  But such lovely, intervallic playing, exploratory and intriguing.  Paddy was all syncopations touching on groove, softly toned with an array of synthetic core strings, intriguing in solos and also playful with long intervals.  Nick is back from many years in Shanghai, renowned and admired on any visit.  His chops and inventiveness were a huge pleasure but also his quick intuiting of the song and its requirements.  I noticed him marking his charts before, so there was preparation involved in his creativity, too.  Just a fabulous outing of three wonderfully inventive players with unique charts to carry the event.  And certainly a change after an afternoon of concert bands in a cave.

Harry Tinney (guitar) led his trio with Paddy Fitzgerald (bass) and Nick McBride (drums) at Smiths.

26 September 2022


We'd never got inside Carey's Cave.  It's a smallish cave but part of a larger cave system just out of Wee Jasper on the shores of Lake Burrinjuck.  Not the sort of thing anyone but a local knows of.  We'd visited Wee Jasper a few times, but the cave had always been closed so I was happy to be asked to record inside.  This was several concert bands, from ANU, Tuggeranong, Young and Yass, variously playing their own numbers perhaps with the better readers sitting in with another group.  Of course, it's slippery and muddy inside, so cables and all manner of other stuff need a clean after, but this was a unique experience.  Finally, Carey's Cave.

24 September 2022

Revisiting a rethink

For me, this was a revisit for the soloist and for the work.  Canberra Sinfonia played the Max Richter classical uber-hit Vivaldi Four Seasons recomposed and Helena Popovic played the solo violin part.  They did it with precision and involvement and perhaps just a touch of humour.  It deserves a touch of humour.  Richter must have grinned all the way to the bank.  Not that I demean it.  I like this minimalist, post-modern, looping stuff, especially when they get into rhythmic plays, dropping beats and contrasting polyrhythms and the like.  I particularly liked the program, guiding us through the four seasons, each with three sections, so Winter I, II and  III.  All different, all quoting and playing with Hardel's original.  No conductor; this was performed as in chamber with Helena leading and the orchestra feeling its way.  Well done.  We occasionally lost Helena's solo part amongst and excited orchestra, but we were also excited so of little matter.  I walked out with various friends commenting positively, even ecstatically.  We'd enjoyed it no end.  So congratulations, Helena and Canberra Sinfonia.

Helena Popovic (violin) soloed and led Canberra Sinfonia in Max Richter Vivaldi Four Seasons recomposed at Wesley Church.

19 September 2022


Musica da Camera had its performance weekend.  This one was under Shilong Ye and with an obscure but interesting list of compositions.  Bartok and Delius, and Volkmann, Glazunov and Nielsen.  The last three are pretty obscure even if the names somewhat ring a bell.  Not impossible stuff, but with its own challenges: some odd counts, an occasional 5/4 variation, some solo bass parts that were important, requiring some conscious counting.   We played the standard local outing in Cook, then our Sunday drive was to Gundaroo.  Our recent country performances have been in Gunning, but given the potholes, the closer town was a gift to the suspension.  There were a few last minute swerves from some very scary water-filled potholes along the way.  And the Soldiers' Memorial Hall is a lovely, dark thing with a cathedral ceiling in wood, so lovely direct reverberations.  Warm in temp (given the gas heaters) and warm in reverb.  We played the Saturday well so the step up for the replay was not so large; both were decent outings.  So a satisfying weekend with some decent, lesser known music.

Musica da Camera performed Bartok, Delius, Volkmann, Glazunov and Nielsen at Cook and Gundaroo under Shilong Ye (director).

15 September 2022

Times of Hope

I think I don't look forward to seeing a series of students from a studio, but I should.  I do enjoy watching the range of skills, the clear development with time and age, the obviously growing awareness and maturity of the emotional responses in performance.  And this is as it should be, of course.  We get better, we understand more through life, we experience the new, until maybe we no longer do.  This is also part of life.  It surprises me that we can watch these developments over such a short time, through a series of performers, of varied but ordered ages, over just an hour or so.  I think they were all schoolies: short and young at one end;  teens at the other.  It goes to show how emotionally mature can be a teenager.  So, is this a duty, to record the several studio concerts?  I have thought so, but now I think differently. Rather, this is an education and an opportunity encouraging optimism.  In a dark time it's a thing of beauty and hope.  Nine players, playing all manner of musics through to Rachmaninov and Haydn and Katz Chernin and Handel and Chopin and Rameau and more.  This studio was Marie Cull's and it was a pleasure.

Students of the school of Marie Cull performed at Wesley.

08 September 2022

Song then and now

They say Schumann Leiderkreis op.39 is one of the great song cycles.  I've listened to leider and found it hard to love, but I did this one.  Maybe it's the grand vision of a larger work (it's 12 shorter songs on the Romantic experience of landscape); maybe it's the wonderful performance.  It wasn't the words, because I didn't follow the German translation.  This was Rachel Mink accompanied by Aaron Chew and they both did wonderfully.  Strong voice, aware interpretation and effective communication from Rachel with delicate pianism and responsive accompaniment from Aaron.  A very classy outing.  And then to get  another song cycle, this time contemporary, in English and variously feminist and amusing, was just icing on the cake.  This was Susan LaBarr Little Black Book with lyrics by Caitlin Vincent.   Written in the last few years and apparently a product of Melbourne, so there's local awareness and it's in English.  I didn't catch all the lyrics but I did most.  Also, we didn't get it all.  The whole is 6 songs, introduced with the song Five, then John, Vince, Steve and obviously two others.  We missed two boyfriends and it's not yet distributed but it's one to watch for.  I couldn't quite work out where to place it, as feminist or comedic or even desperate, most probably with some aspects of all three, although I expect whatever desperation served another a purpose.   So there was modern awareness but also that romantic vision. What a satisfying outing.

Rachel Mink (soprano) was accompanied by Aaron Chew (piano) at Wesley.

06 September 2022

Busy times

I play in a few groups and they tend to group their concerts together, four times pa.  Thus, a week after the Opera Gala, I played with Maruki at Albert Hall.  Now Maruki is just great for playing the repertoire.  This is not a light-on orchestra.   For proof, the program for Sunday was Handel Water Music, Holst St Paul's Suite, Dvorak violin concerto and Beethoven Symphony 6.  Certainly not a lightweight program!  The intonation wasn't perfect and there was a little uncertainty in one B6 movement, but overall it went well and we have certainly learnt something of these works.  There is no substitute for playing them in concert.  The preparation and performance  is something special, drilling your part into your being, unlike any intense listening.  This is a total body experience and an entry into a the mind of a genius.  I liked them all for different reasons, but I'll especially remember the Beethoven for unexpected and tricky intervals (4ths when expecting 3rds) and more.  A pleasure and an education. 

Maruki Orchestra performed at Albert Hall.  John Gould (conductor, violin soloist) led for most of the concert and played violin for the Dvorak concerto; Kristen Simpson (conductor) led the Dvorak.  The bass end comprised Jeremy Tsuei, Jennifer Groom and Eric Pozza.

01 September 2022

And now for something different and not

Akkordeon is different but the original tunes that Anton Wurzer played had real connections to jazz and latin and more.  Anton is our our local virtuoso piano accordionist.  I've heard him play classical and all manner of modern and cultural styles.  He played a string of original tunes at Wesley and they had connections with jazz and French and sambas and German folk and gypsy jazz and blues.  And his style of writing is not at all simplified.  These are complex arrangements, changing time signatures and lots of dynamics and tempo movements.  And all played with the sharpest touch, so his semiquavers (would he say 16th notes?) were just spot-on-perfect.  They can be sloppy in many hands, but not on Anton's keyboard.  His left hand, of course, played buttons, chordal-cum-bass accompaniment, and again sharp and correct and nicely distinct from the right hand embellishments and melodies and solos and both hands stopped occasionally for a tapping percussion, again apt and precise.  This is clever music, played with precise fingering and with writing that shows clear awareness of style.  And stories.  So one tune was Lachlan's mood, given a request form co-performer Lachlan Coventry, and Manouche Emma referred to student Emma and Tathra Pub gig referred to a session obviously at the Tathra Pub.  Empress Theadora's dance was a bit further from home, being about Byzantine monarchy and Red samba beans, well, just about food.  So every tune tells a story and all nicely written and quite complex and sharply played.  Not too many really obvious lengthy solos, but the final number, Tathra Pub gig, showed off some classy bluesy improv with quotes from Summertime and American in Paris.  Clever and all round very nicely played.

Anton Wurzer (accordion) performed original music at Wesley.