30 April 2023

How to live happily ever after

It's our local orchestra and we'd got a good deal but I was not so keen on the program.  So I thought and how wrong one can be.  The program was two commissioned modern-Australian pieces and a Scriabin piano concerto and Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade.  We'd heard Scheherazade several times, even by the Berlin Phil, and I'd listened to some of the Scriabin in the afternoon and I wasn't so taken.  Maybe it's the live effect but, in the end, I loved this all deeply (when I could ignore the immensely offensive plot).  Scheherazade was all the lyrical beauty that it is expected and the storyline, assisted by a rear projection, was clear and gave order to the whole.  Early on I wished for more dynamics, those pp passages that have you leaning in your seats, but then the ff passages worked and the dynamics became stronger and the lyricism leaped forward and Jessica Cottis' urgings fell into place and the main work was a huge pleasure.  But not the first for the night.  The Scriabin presented some busy and expansive piano and was a real pleasure, even if occasionally lost amongst the 55 players of the orchestra.  It's an easy slip up, that.  But nonetheless, a telling performance by orchestra and soloist.  The two commissioned pieces seemed to share some aspects, both ~8 mins, both with busy bows playing big crescendoes although one with more than the other.  Miriama Young's piece was called Kinds of blue.  I expected references to Miles, but rather it referred to various shade of blue in found Rothko paintings.  Interesting but odd for a jazzer given the Miles relationship.  Sine Winther played piano.  The other commission was Harry Sdraulig Beyond the ridge, the ranges far, dedicated to a very recently deceased wife with a pic of her walking amongst mountain peaks.  What a wonderful memorial.  Again, some sort of repetition, with each peak followed by another valley and another peak.  Jessica Cottis programmed the night called Electric Blue and spoke of synaesthesia, in which music is experienced in colours.  At least Rimsky-Korsakov had it and Wikipedia says so does JC, so it's relevant.  I wonder how she funds the CSO after all her Euro experiences.  It's a fine orchestra but I wonder if it's a little comfortable as Australians can be.  It wasn't by the end of the night; it was a blast.  Good on ya, CSO and JC.  Well done.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra played Young, Scriabin, Sdraulig and Rimsky-Korsakov in Llewellyn under Jessica Cottis (musical director, conductor) with soloist Sine Winther (piano) and concertmaster Kirsten Williams (violin).

29 April 2023

One for Poland

This one was Mark Jurkiewicz, this time at Goodwin.  We learnt more of Mark's history, the partition of Poland and the political relevance of Chopin's waltzes and more.  Political relevance of a waltz?  It seems hard to conceive of, but these were different days, and to talk of Poland as a country was a death sentence and to play a Polonnaise in Paris was a political statement.  It's with this background and fifteen years in Poland and studies at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy in Warsaw that we place Mark and his performances.  So this has profundity and historical reference.  He played four mazurkas then two waltzes then a Tarantella and Andante Spaniato and Grande Waltz Brillante.  Then and encore of another waltz.  I had played these waltzes as a kid but nothing like this: intense, driven, fast and varied tempos, loud and dynamic, hugely practised and informed.  Mark has made me understand then love Chopin, and I can only say thanks for that.

Mark Jurkiewicz (piano) played Chopin at Goodwin.

28 April 2023

Standing talking

It was called What would you stand for?  and it was a record and investigation into Isobelle Carmody's year of protest.  It was different.  As many, she has protested in marches and more but this was new, more personal, just one person standing with a sign for an hour somewhere in Australia or elsewhere in the world, and open to talk to passing people.  It's a response, perhaps in frustration, to the lack of change by politics (think million-person marches against nuclear arms, Bridge march for reconciliation, marches against Iraq war and more that had no effect), to simmering anger and conspiracies, the immense urgency of climate and more.  Isobelle's approach was to be open to talk with individuals.  It's a valid and strong response and admirable.  And she was at Gorman House documenting such action.  Just a room full of pics of her and signs and others, a short presentation describing the actions and a chance to make your own posters and be photographed as some action.  The attendees were surprisingly mature, as grey hair is so often present at SS4C marches, and no doubt committed (Extinction Rebellion was represented).  I chatted with Isobelle and she was open and joyous.  It was something of a protest of my own to come from a reception at Government House in a suit, but she was obviously welcoming of any conversations and enjoyed the discord.  Talking is a strong action but a small influence and it takes time and time is not too available but I can only wish Isobelle and fellow travellers well.  Dark days indeed.  PS, I had written a song with a parallel theme called the Talking cure on my latest album Sky vs weather.  Have a listen below.

Isobelle Carmody (author, activist) presented an installation and event at Gorman House.

  • The talking cure / The Pots
  • 27 April 2023


    Solo bass is not something I know.  I hardly even remember a solo concerto I've heard live, and the solo bass is a different animal again.  Kyle Ramsay-Daniel blew me out yesterday with a solo bass concert at Wesley.  Now this is not a thing for particularly known works.  Other than the opener by Francois Rabbath, I only barely recognised a name but two that I looked for were on YouTube played by the composer.  And in this case, I guess all were composed by the premiere performer.  There's all manner of stylish, relevant bass techniques here - harmonics, double stops, various bowings, even jazz-like pizz - but perhaps the key is that deep, deep sound that permeates when the open E or A strings are played.  Otherwise, there's plenty in the mid-range but also plenty in the thumb positions and into the stratospheric harmonics, including some harmonic arpeggios and the like that were furious and ridiculously fast.  There were chords here, too, usually from double stops, but the movements could be pretty obvious to the ear.  And the tone was lovely.  Kyle uses one instrument for solo work, another for orchestral.  Common enough given the volume demands of orchestras.  This instrument was gloriously toned.  There was very occasionally the chance of slightly wobbly pitch even given Kyle's chops and experience but that's virtually unavoidable, for which I can only thank God,  as a fellow bassist, even one not nearly so adventurous.  Kyle is bringing a bass quartet to Wesley in a few weeks.  I can only drool.  BTW, Kyle played Rabbath, Xavier Foley, Hans Fryba, Nicholas Walker, David Anderson and Sam Suggs.

    Kyle Ramsay-Daniel (bass) performed solo at Wesley,

    26 April 2023

    CIMF starters

    It was a big day with two major pre-CIMF events.  First up was a session with Tim Lamble to help setup for recording in the Fitters Workshop.  No easy task, this, with long cables from front to back and mics to hang from lighting trusses.  Setting up the trusses alone was the work of 10-or-so people plus those outside setting up temporary entrance rooms and a few for other things.  It's surprising how much is involved.  No wonder people question that I can take my double bass, bass amp, PA and lighting in my Golf.  My gear is nothing like this!  And then session 2 for the CIMF day, a reception at Government House, no less, for CIMF volunteers.  Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, the GG's wife, is patron of CIMF thus the invitation.  It was not my first visit to Govt House (that dated back to Ninian Stevens ' days) but my first formal reception.  We were ushered in after showing photo ID, heard a short concert by the young but wonderfully capable Meyer piano quartet playing some very challenging Mahler (featuring echoed lines) and Brahms (with rabidly fast unison lines), chatted in the dining room and explored the public rooms and the art (on loan from NGA).  Some big names in Australian art hanging there.  The reception was pleasant, the company was chatty, the hosts, His Excellency the GG and Ma'am, were friendly.  We dressed to the nines, of course, and that also was fun.  Amusingly we were to attend a session on effective protest/activism immediately thereafter.  Oh, the bewilderment of life for this republican.  But more on the talking cure later.

    CIMF 2023 started for me with Fitters Workshop setup and a Government House reception for CIMF volunteers.  The Meyer Piano Quartet performed at the reception.  The Meyer Quartet are David Cavenagh (piano), Brad Tham (violin), Pippa Newman (viola), James Monro (cello)

    21 April 2023

    Bach back

    Great to see Bach back again.  Our local Canberra Bach Ensemble had a fairly short concert to reemerge after Covid and to start preparing for BachFest in Leipzig, now in 2024.  CBE is the first Australian group to be invited to BachFest.  We luxuriated in these great sounds, these fabulous baroque fugues and songs and instrumentals at that reduced pitch.  The orchestra was a bit smaller than previous outings, with 2 x violin, 2 x viola, 1 x cello, organ, 1 x flute and 2 x recorders although much was reduced to single seats and even just organ and cello for some pieces.  Bianca did a great job, but perhaps Clara was the defining instrument for the night, as the bass end (here cello) tends to be.  And she played for every piece, along with Anthony.  The choir could be blissful, especially in the Schutz with just organ and cello accompaniment, with the vocals were so, so clear and insistent.  The sopranos rang and soared and I was on the side of the stage with the tenors and basses and I heard them so clearly in their interplay.  The night started with a larger choral work with orchestral accompaniment, then through a series of arias variously for soprano, alto and/or bass, then a final three works by Bach antecedents, Heinrich Schutz and Andreas Hammerschmidt.  Then a drinks and nibbles in the local hall.  This was a fund-raiser and well attended and the musicians played for nix so not a full bore concert of cantatas.  Looking forward to the bigger outings in due course.  Bring it on!

    Andrew Koll (conductor) directed the Canberra Bach Ensemble at St Christopher's in Manuka.  Instrumentalists were Bianca Porcheddu and Lauren Davis (violins), Lucy Carrigy-Ryan, John Ma and Elizabeth Chalker (violas), Clara Teniswood (cello), Anthony Smith (organ), Jennifer Bryan (flauto traverso), Robyn Mellor and Olivia Gossip (recorders).  Vocal soloists were Greta Claringbould (soprano), Maarte Seventer (alto) and Andrew Fysh (bass).  The choir was 24 (including Greta, Marrte and Andrew) comprising 6 for each SATB part.

    20 April 2023


    Perhaps our current lingo is diversity, but not sure it fits here.  I've heard Robert Schmidli several times and he's always impressed for his skills but today I noticed the variety of his playing.  First up JS Bach but one of only a few variations and one I wasn't aware of: Aria variata alla maniera Italiana.  Robert called them his forgotten variations after Goldberg and one other, and described the variations as more varied in tempo and character than usual, with 10 tempo variations and sandwiched by the opening theme.  Then something very different, a Chopin nocturne and different again, some Debussy impressionism, even if Debussy didn't think too highly of the description, and different again, a Liszt Hungarian rhapsody.  So quite some travel in style.  I felt the more romantic styles were Robert's forte, although I loved his Bach, too, that more formal and consistent approach.  Either way, yet again some great playing and apt interpretations from Robert.

    Robert Schmidli (piano) performed at Wesley.

    17 April 2023


    Ah, now that's a new word for the day: Apocaloptimism.  There was another core concept that was not quite so new or catchy but perhaps more germane here: State capture.  These were perhaps the two major themes of discussion at the Canberra Conversations session at Smiths this Sunday afternoon.  It was the second of these monthly sessions  and continued the discussion of problems of our current democracy.  The speakers at this session were Tim Hollo, well known Green and climate activist and musician (from Four Play, a hip/modern string quartet) and Mark Spain, of the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD).  I think the main argument was for Participatory democracy.  It's all the rage these days, involving the public in community decision-making and taking on real influence with the Teals and independents movements.  Cathy McGowan and Helen Hughes were specifically mentioned.  Tim argued the case for our democracy being broken, citing State Capture.  That's a recent concept (first used by the World Bank in 2000) which outlines a type of political corruption of democratic processes, through money and influence and involvement.  I warm to this argument.  (Just read Ross Gittins in today's SMH: How squabbling pollies let miners wreck our economy / Ross Gittins IN Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Apr 2023).  This discussion was pretty bleak about democracy serving the people: enclosures of commons "at extreme level(s)"; Integrity commission "just a tip of the iceberg"; revolving doors and regulatory capture and more.  Mark argued state capture was an ambiguous term and preferred "control by powerful, moneyed interests".  Yeah, nah.  Media, PS, governance "all taken".  Amusingly this was visually proven with the statement "the end of the Earth is easier to envisage than the end of capitalism".  Nice quote, that.  And then an argument that socialism is also just a state function, so both are equally bad, if I heard right.  They argued for the reinvention of government given the "complete failure of the system".  The community needs to learn to "govern itself", from local up, with "shared neutral abundance".  Citizens are the ultimate decision makers and there are four levels of action: 1/ personal ("business loves this [approach]", agreed, and I'd argue as it also loves identity politics); 2/household; 3/ local institutions; 4/ changing laws-intentional change. Tim essentially confirmed government by/of/for the people by suggesting consent can be withdrawn.  There was talk of a society of 2m people in northern Syria and how it self-governs as proof of consent as the determinant.   And wisdom comes from diversity, and plenty of mentions of privilege.  As there are nowadays.  Just two questions in and Mark was noting both questions were by men.  Amusingly, the most time-consuming of all questions (well, four questions in one with several comebacks) was by the one non-Caucasian women who first-up noted that she was the one non-Caucasian.  How valuable are stats when numbers are so small?  There were only 12 in the audience and 3 on stage, and not a particularly indicative group and it was freely open and inviting to all, I would think, by its very nature.  Then a discussion of working 4dpw or 3dpw and allocating the other day/s to community and how that would reduce mental health issues.   And proof of the failure of government, such as "many ministers are being misled by advisers within the public service ... happy to put this on the record.  I've seen evidence of this".  A big challenge but probably reasonable.  And ACT Labor captured by Neoliberal economics.  I've thought somewhat similarly at times despite the tram.  And the "wellbeing commons" as the answer.  Figuratively, "sharpen the bow of the boat to cut through the water" meaning put good people into the bad systems.  And rather than "wellbeing economics" we need "regenerative economics".    And the "best at this are women from LSE".  They mentioned a name so this comment was specific.  Then compulsory voting and a decent AEC as a problem, not because it's not doing its job (it is) but because people too easily accept all the mess surrounding it given our decent voting system.  Voting is divisive anyway, creating for and against groups that are committed to disagreement.  Voting makes for sides and a fight rather than participatory, cooperative approaches.  Then that hoary one "old white men voted for Brexit".  Well maybe, but as an old white man I stew about being identified with support for Brexit.  Then something about Bank Australia (presumably with an alternative banking model) and the end of the word/world as we know it: Apocaloptimism (if you give up you've definitely lost).  So how did I feel in all this?  It was all a bit over the place, big ideas, little history, perhaps too local but obviously with hearts in the right place.  In fact, I agree on state capture and neoliberalism as key problems and that we are threatened with climate and nuclear and AI and other apocalypses.  I do get annoyed with the generalisations, always about  the other, while you preen your own identity and broadcast your under-privileges.  Often while ignoring what I see as the essential disadvantage, poverty/inequality.  For I remain a bit old school, pre-identitarian, second wave feminist, democratic socialist.  But this was not a session on identity.  Its heart was in the right place, and the discussion took it beyond what it probably sought.  Although there was talk of growing your own spinach, I'm sure they recognised they still want their tablets and mobiles, and that requires more complex organisation than the local community garden.  And I don't think they actually want to discard government, but to make it more responsive to community (=the people) and less captured by moneys and other forms of power.  Good, most would agree.  The session didn't stop for drinks and chat and I think it may have suffered from that.  That informal chatter can be the most balanced and also the most testing.  So, will I return?  I guess it deserves another session even if I left somewhat underwhelmed.  As for the attendance (15), wasn't it Lenin who talked of the vanguard?  At least I learnt a very cool new word.

    Canberra Conversations is a monthly political session at Smiths, on the third Sunday afternoon of each month.  This time, the guests were Tim Hollo and Mark Spain.

    14 April 2023


    The Old Canberra Inn is about the oldest European built thing in Canberra.  A hand hewn timber slab construction from 1857, originally a coach stop, rough but a great hangout with history and character and ambience.  So when we got an offer out of the blue to play there, we took it.  The news was that jam sessions fortnightly and band gigs the alternate weeks.  OK.  We had a great gig and a great audience and played well.  Not sure, though, that the message went out, as a few blokes arrived with guitar and kit components.  We got to chat with a visiting muso from Sydney but he was just there for a dinner.  And Leo Joseph dropped in for some of the first set.  I would have liked to talk to a few of the others but nothing came of it.  We played two long sets and no musos around in the breaks.  Whatever, the jam scene has opened up now in Canberra, and I know of at least regular jam sessions around Canberra.  So all is well and we enjoyed the gig.  Thus ends a busy few weeks for me: two significant classical gigs and three jazz gigs.  Plus an album release and various recordings.  That's lots for this bassist.

    Tilt Trio played at Old Canberra Inn.  Tilt Trio are James Woodman (piano), Dave McDade (drums) and Eric Pozza (bass).

    13 April 2023

    Iberia and thereabouts

    Classical guitar is a different stringed instrument.  It's fretted, to start with, and there's little that's fretted since the baroque era and that's with moveable gut.  Thus its tone is sharp and intonation is precise.  Also, it seems so associated with Spain so even when playing Bach and Pachelbel I hear strains of Iberia.  Connor Whyte performed at Wesley yesterday on classical guitar.  He's a worthy player, award winner (2022 Adelaide International Guitar Competition, no less) and now an honours student at the ANUSOM.  His program was baroque (Bach and Pachelbel) and Spanish (Rodrigo and Sor) so it confirmed all my expectations.  But so what for my expectations.  The music was wonderfully detailed and delicate, imaginative given his own arrangements for Bach and Pachelbel, intensely dynamic to the lowest of volumes that had you craning in your seat.  The baroque stuff worked a treat and the skills were to die for, blistering scales and double stops and thumb and finger picks and thumb playing a low quarter-note melody against sixteenth-note finger picking, hammers-on and harmonics and some dissonance from the recent works.  And all from memory.  Just a huge pleasure.

    Connor Whyte (guitar) performed Bach, Pachelbel, Rodrigo and Sor at Wesley.

    11 April 2023


    Well, I have another album out (as The Pots) and coincidentally I heard of a poetry open-mic session at Smiths.  I enjoy the performance, so this night.  It was the last event of Smiths' Anti-Folk Festival although poetry at Smiths is a regular Monday night event anyway.  It was just a few hours and the open spots were just 3-minutes.   I guess because I perform music on stage and there's often a mic that I know how to use it: up close and projecting.  Many don't, so we are struggling to hear some voices.  And what we heard was quite a range.  A few complex science-related poems from obvious insiders of the group.  Several intimate works, more-so from women.  A jokey country spot from a country guy.  Some ordered verse and some less ordered streams.  Just a few vivid, surprising images.   A very clever play on writing academic assignments and poetry.  It has me wondering  "what si poetry".  What is it?  It's decades since I really wondered that, if ever.  Is it just or more or all of rhythm, rhyme, imagery, language and how's it different from other literature other than layout.  I'll investigate, but in the meantime, I enjoyed the visit to this world.  BTW, I recited the lyrics of COP29 now (from sky vs weather) and Ah! PBO (from Hope).

    That Poetry Thing! Big Open Mic night was at Smiths Alternative.

  • Lyrics and/or listen > COP27 now / Ah! PBO
  • 08 April 2023

    One good friday

    It's Good Friday and I'm pretty free except to attend some music later in the day.  I turn on ABCRN and the morning program is for Easter, all contemporary Christianity and historical Jesus.  Then just one piece of music, and what a coincidence!  I recognised it as Antonio Lotti Crucifixus a 8.  Sung by The Choir of King's College Cambridge.  A coincidence because we had two singers from this choir staying with us one CIMF, but mainly because it's the tune I chose to end my latest album, The Pots sky vs weather.  My take is midi with a nice sampled choir and church organ with some cathedral reverb.  It was inherently satisfyingly beautiful so I left it without further complexities.  Of course, the real voices were better and featured words with meaning, and the arrangement was longer and slower, but nice to find the coincidence.  The music we were to hear in the afternoon was Scarlatti Stabat Mater dolorosa with an introduction of Nicola Porpora Rigate lacrimis.  Clara had asked it not be recorded, as it was not formally a concert but a religious event.  OK.  But another coincidence.  It was a rainy day, and coming up to the start at 3pm we heard thunder.  I checked the timing of Christ's death on the cross.  Apparently the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Luke, Mark) suggests crucifixion at 9am, darkness at noon and death at 3pm.  There's a conflict with John's gospel but I didn't follow it up too closely.*  I'm not superstitious or religious, so I can easily accept a coincidence as just that, but it was amusing, if this topic can be.  Then the music.  There was a cross out front on the altar with two candles, a request for silence, a female priest narrating (given my Catholic background, this remains notable), a string of musicians along the back wall of the altar.  Organ, cello, two vocals, two violins.  Interestingly, a full female retinue.  The Porpora was fairly short; the Scarlatti longish, ~50mins in 20 short movements, each with a three line theme introduced by the priest and sung by the singers.  I love this era, ordered and contrapuntal, even somewhat joyous, but I found the context quite strange.  Isn't this Good Friday, memorialising the crucifixion?  The words seemed oddly contrasting with the emotions of the music.  And as for picturing a distraught mother at the foot of a son dying in pain, it seemed fully implausible.  But then I am not of the era and don't have this worldview.  You could also consider it the opportunity for salivation so a thing of joy.  All difficult arguments, but the music was lovely. 

    Scarlatti and Popora were performed at St Pauls Manuka on Good Friday by Greta Claringbould (soprano, canto), Maartje Sevenster (alto), Lauren David and Michelle Higgs (violins), Clara Teniswood (cello) and Ariana Odermatt (organ) with Rev. Sandie Kane (priest, narrator).

  • Compare takes on Antonio Lotti Crucifixus a 8 >
    The Pots sky vs weather   /   Choir of Kings College  Cambridge

  • What time was Jesus crucified?

    07 April 2023

    Awe all around

    Wayne Shorter was obviously a formative artist for Con Campbell and Alex Raupach and they'd been planning a performance of his album Speak no evil for some time.  When WS died, aged 89, on 2 March 2023, it took on a special relevance.  Con's quintet comprised Con and Alex with Wayne Kelly, Chris Pound and Nick McBride.  It's a star-studded Canberra lineup but apt for this music, playing Wayne, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Elvin Jones.  But the start was also fascinating.  An original for the quintet by Alex, then a trio of trios.  Chris and Nick with Alex then with Con for two tunes by another uber-creative Thelonious Monk (Evidence, Friday the 13th), then a trio with Wayne playing a WK original.  Quite a different tune to end a shortish first set, in expectation of the album replay.  Then the album straight through in order.  Delightful syncopation on bass, extended flourishes on piano not least through chords, just fascinating chordal, often chromatic, movements with extensions spelling the flow, unique structures like 32-bars that were anything but AABA and 9 bar sections and the rest, all manner of colours in the writing.  And those indicative solos over, from Wayne and also more regular from Freddie.  I followed the chords from iRealPro and was fascinated by all this, and somewhat confused.  I'd played chords like this but never quite investigated these changes and the harmonic roles of these alterations.  This is deserving; worthy of investigation even at a kitchen table.  By the end I was quite awed by the source material but also by the local interpretation.  Just stunning all round.  The night ended pretty early and several went off to Molly for the jam session.  I started up the stairs, but the raucous sounds seemed at some conflict with what I'd heard, so I deferred, passing Nick on his way in.  Wow.  I still feel the awe.

    Con Campbell (tenor), Alex Raupach (trumpet), Wayne Kelly (piano), Chris Pound (bass) and Nick McBride (drums) performed Wayne Shorter's album Speak no evil at Smiths for Geoff Page's Jazz series.

    06 April 2023

    Hip hop?

    I enjoy the various outings of the RMC Band.  They are good musicians who are paid to play lots.  And they are varied, playing as big band or brass band or smaller groups, with or without rhythm section, or even playing for dignitaries and pollies and Last posts and the likes.  I was chatting with one of the leaders and he was saying a how he will play the Last post at Villers-Bretonneux and how this is a great honour.  I can understand.  The only higher honour is that at Gallipoli.  But this was neither.  It was the Woodwind group and they were playing Ibert, Mussorgsky, Nielsen and Goodwin in the Wesley concert room in various combinations (high wind trio, clarinet quartet, woodwind quartet and sax quartet).  And they were great.  I particularly liked the first part of the concert.  Ibert's Cinq pieces en trio... with 5 short pieces played by flute, clarinet and bassoon.  The bassoon has a fabulous, fat, tone and plays the bass register and I love it, and the paring of clarinet with flute was magical.  Then the clarinet quartet (bass, alto, Bb and Eb) played Pictures at a (small) exhibition, an arrangement of Mussorgsky by Rossi. This is wildly popular and I loved playing it in an orchestral format and again I loved this quirky piece.  Then the Woodwind quartet (flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon and cor anglais/oboe).  Mmm, not my favourite piece on the day.  Somewhat divergent to my ears, but maybe I should listen more.  It was Nielsen Wood quintet op.43, mvm.3.  Then a strange but modern and lively Diffusion for sax quartet.  The saxes were soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and the movements were Allegro, Waltz, a fabulous Swing and a strangely non rappy Hiphop.  It was composed in 2008 so rap was with us, but this did not feel like hop hop it me.  More like a funky groove with melody over.  I wondered about hop as in dancing, Lindy hop etc, but not that either.  But what a fabulous outing from some classy players.  Strange in their regulation uniforms and ordered stage presence perhaps (hip hop?) but such good and challenging music so well played.  Many thanks.

    The RMC Band Woodwinds played at Wesley.

    04 April 2023

    Monday whatever ...

    What to do on a Monday night when other responsibilities are in abeyance?  First up was a night at Smiths for Geoff Page's poetry.  He was featuring two poets this night, reading for a group of ~40 people.  First up was KT Nelson, a local who now spends time in Central Australia, has won prizes and released poetry, not least in her book Inlandia, with references to her outback experiences with Aboriginal resonances.  Then Jelena Dinic, originally from Serbia, now Adelaide, who immigrated during the collapse of Yugoslavia.  Again, an award winner and quite a prolific publisher of her poetry.  In this case, somewhat influenced by Serbian poetry, as Serbs seems to be.  As she said at one time, in Serbia "even war criminals want to be poets".  I found KTN's poetry to be fairly straightforward with well formed political, personal and such opinions.  Jelena seemed to write in a more colourful style on matters personal and otherwise.  I was startled a few times (in a most pleasant way) by unexpected combinations and colourful images.  Maybe not literally accurate, but one was something like "dust ... as if the walls were undressing".  Wow!  Poetry is not a normal outing for me but I might occasionally try some more.  Then walking about a pretty quiet Civic, I passed Hippo and there was gear in the window.  I went up to find a blues night with no less than DJ Gosper.  I arrived in the break so mostly chatted with Dean Edgecombe and heard just a few tunes by the band.  Nice, somewhat laid back, authentic and well felt blues, mostly original but one very well spotted tune out of Melbourne.  So much enjoyed if only for a short outing.  And dancing, not be me, but by a few mature rock'n'roll couples.  I shouldn't be so surprised but I found plenty to do on Monday night in Civic.

    Geoff Page present Poetry at Smiths featuring KT Nelson and Jelena Dinic.  DJ Gosper (vocals, blues harp) led a band with Jeff Prime (guitar), Dean Edgecombe (bass, vocals) and Jack Barnard (drums) at Hippo.

    02 April 2023

    Haydn's Canberra Seasons

    The concert was on 1 April so our practice in the morning, somewhat stilted and desperate, must have been a trick played on us, because the 3pm concert was an absolute blast.  This was NCO's annual get-together in Llewellyn Hall with CCS and a few singers out front and the music was Haydn The Seasons.  Now, this is a big work (a CSO member suggested "massive") and the orchestra practiced it for perhaps 8 weeks and only met with two of the singers on the Monday before the Saturday, and the other singer and choir only on the Friday night.  The arias and choral pieces were pretty much all there, but the repetitives were mostly removed, I guess to relieve the singers of such a massive task in preparation, and in a nifty and local way, they were replaced by a series of Canberra-related spoken word introductions form no other than Laura Tingle, ABC TV journo but also a member of CCS (I've seen her singing before).  I couldn't hear Laura from my location, but the proxy was well received and a very clever local innovation talking of magpies and trips to the coast and possums the like.  As for the performance, I'm not the only believer in the "she'll be right on the night" line, and the performance just proved the proposition.  It was a blast.  The were some moments of indecision or missed lines (Haydn is full of explosive and hugely challenging phrases, not just for the winds and others, but even for the basses) but the performance was thrilling and the exhilaration from choir and orchestra and singers on song was ever present.  And there were several fugues (3?), one at truly breakneck speed, all thrilling and structurally complex.  I love these things. And the gloriously delicate start to, what, winter?  And plenty more of interest.  Talk of massive, it was 2 hours playing with the repetitives removed!  Massive indeed.  But we did it and, as is the way, we partied and chuckled about it all after.  Just a blast, again, from our NCO/CCS collaboration.

    National Capital Orchestra and Canberra Choral Society gather for their annual performance at Llewellyn Hall to play Haydn The Seasons.  Sarahlouise Owens (soprano), Ryan O'Donnell (tenor) and Sitiveni Talei (bass) sang.   Laura Tingle (narrator) replaced the repetitives with a Canberra Seasons theme.  Louis Sharpe (conductor) conducted and Dan Walker (chorus master) prepared the choir.  Our bottom end comprised Juliet Flook, Jennifer Groom and Eric Pozza (basses).

    This is CJBlog post no. 2,600