31 August 2023

Dunera and other losses

They entitled this concert Heartfelt Storytelling and I can see the reasons.  First up was one movement of a composition by one of the Dunera boys, a ship of Europeans deported to Australia by the Brits in early WW2, comprising a few hundred each of Italian and German POWS and ~2,000 German and Italian civilians, mostly Jewish refugees.  Plenty of others went to Canada.  Max-Peter Meyer was one and the group played mvt.2 of his Piano Quartet.  Nice one.  But the highlight was Faure Piano Quartet no.1.  Again, a work of heartfelt loss, in this case, by Faure of his bride-to-be, Marianne Viardot, who left sometime during their engagement.  This was a fabulously powerful and emotive piece and played with both passion and musical precision by this group.  I'd seen them, or at least most of them, at Government house and was impressed, but these works were more demanding and involving and the concert hall setting allowed it.  Suffice to say there were whoops and standing ovations at the end of this one.  I was particularly taken by the ensemble nature of the group, often with eyes up, frequently by Brad and often enough by James.  And the accuracy in expression and intonation that just spelt impressive listening.  What a fabulous concert.  As I heard later, "the future of classical music is in good hands".  Yep, this was a seriously satisfying outing.

The Callistemon Quartet performed Meyer and Faure at a Wesley lunchtime concert.  CQ comprised Anika Chan (violin), Brad Tham (viola), James Munro (cello) and Rhys Butterworth (piano).

29 August 2023

Taking me back 2j

This was not rekindling past memories, but it was a finality for the busy night at Smiths.  Thus 2j.  I play classical with Jeremy and we often talk jazz and teachers and techniques.  He was playing the next day at a small coffee bar near ASIO HQ in Campbell and invited me along for a listen.  I chatted with various jazz mates and families while Joel and Jeremy played a string of standards.  Both played well but I was particularly taken by regularly neat and quick solos from Jeremy.  Interestingly, I could hear Eric Ajaye, one of his teachers, in his slides and tonality, it being an ex-Eric bass.  A nice interlude on an increasingly stormy Sunday afternoon. 

Jeremy Tsuei (bass) played with Joel Dreezer (flute, sax) at Purple Rain bar.

28 August 2023

Taking me back 2

Later in the night was guitar time, a dedication to George Benson, guitarist, singer, pop-breakthrough and especially his albums Cookbook and Breezin'.  I heard him yonks back in Adelaide but others mention him visiting Canberra only 7-or-so years ago.  Perhaps the closest thing to the Subterraneans in this was the clear, crisp, uneffected guitars.  Otherwise this was another world.  Standards, fast clips, clarity, walking bass and swinging drum grooves, baritone sax.  Bari sax?  It's a strange combination with clean guitar but George Benson used it and Tom told me the name of the NYC bari player.  I've forgotten his name but I can remember the effectiveness of that deep and satisfying tone, somewhat hard to hear clearly down in those frequencies with plenty of quick solo and melody lines, but it worked a treat.  Jokingly we were welcomed to the pre-gig rehearsal for this is a thrown together session in the jam session tradition, tunes being identified for players to learn then they get together on the night, I guess.  Maybe not for Chris and James because they'd done a similar gig in Melbourne, but there was plenty of concentration on a few faces on stage and big smiles when they carried it off.  And they did.  Fast and faster at times or ballads and even poppy, with GB's unlikely international pop-hit Breezing to finish.  But before that, all guitar solos passed and other instruments called for and fast-as lines, like Ready and able and The Cooker but also some ballads, Will you still be mine, Willow weep for me and some bluesy things, although not too obviously 12-bars, and interesting changing combinations, from quintet down to duo and two different guitar trios and a guitar quartet in between.    This was much more bop than funk so hugely different and more agreeable on the ears, but another fabulously interesting outing with plenty of good will and laughs.  Chris will continue this series with an invitation to another ex-CSM student, Sydneysider Carl Dewhurst, sometime in September.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Chris Johnstone (guitar) called together James Sherlock (guitar, Melbourne), Tom Fell (baritone sax), James Luke (bass) and Nick McBride (drums) to play a tribute to George Benson at Smiths.

27 August 2023

Taking me back 1

First up for a long session at Smiths was the Subterraneans.  They took me back to previous gigs and that Jaco-esque bass playing of Steve Hunter, of course, which no e-bassist could sit still for, but also for that era of jazz rock that I remember, all rapid (and from lesser bands often vapid) soloing.  But this was not that.  This was an exciting, toe-tapping, unrelenting outing of intriguing music.  Yes, it was up-tempo and loud, but the melodies played with varied long intervals over chords with rhythmic plays and the meters were odd and changing and the drums were solid and driving and the bass all fluid and intense and the solos to die for.  We had two wind players up front, James Ryan (ex-Canberra School of Music in its Manuka days) and visiting Netherlander Jeroen Pec with a range of flutes and an array of effects and another ex-SOM student Michael Coggins on guitar using very restrained effects (except for some outer spacey sounds on a JP tune) and quick clear tones on a lovely period-looking Maton.  And Steve Hunter on JB with rosewood neck and Jack Powell, long haired and almost metallic on  what else but a black Pearl drum kit.  I chucked, as did JR to hear a fast string of kick hits: presumably he had a double headed beater behind the kick although I didn't notice it again.  But the mix of sharp, undiluted power from those drums and the swirling mix of blister-speed finger picking and damped notes and convoluted sixteenth-note grooves just set a fabulous scene for complex melody and outlandish soloing.  OK, so it was a style for the super chopped kids but it's a blast of joy and humour and chuckles when you hear it like this.  Remember your first listen to Jaco or Stanley or Chick?  Like that.  And they were late in a NSW tour so tight.  Eye opening and seemingly impossible, but it was there on stage at Smiths and I was floored.  Loved this one!  And glad I kept the tissue in my ears.

The Subterraneans played Smiths early one Saturday evening.  The band comprised vistor from the Netherlands, Jeroen Pek (flutes) with James Ryan (saxophones, flute), Michael Coggins (guitar), Steve Hunter (bass) and Jack Powell (drums).  PS. the pic does them no justice.

23 August 2023

Kangaroos or wallabies

I think it was the kangaroos that delayed Patrick and Jennifer for their gig at Wesley.  They started on time but it was tight.  But then Wesley is a fairly casual event, being a weekly lunchtime concert and Patrick had seen kangaroos.  He's Irish descent but San Francisco-based and I think this was his first time.  He asked about the difference between kangaroos and wallabies and we chatted otherwise about our fauna.  Jennifer is an Aussie working now in Sydney and Canberra so she knows kangaroos.  They both have SF Con in their CVs so I guess that's where they met.  Whatever, this was a classy and singular collection of tunes.  From Sibelius and Chopin arranged for violin and piano and Spanish Sarastate and an amusing Prokofiev march and a few solo violin numbers, not least con Westhoff, pre-Bach, to finish with American composer Amy Beach and a Romance for violin and piano.  All attractive but also exotic.  And all informatively introduced and played with awareness and chops.  Interestingly, with a violin made in Sydney!  A lovely afternoon concert of considerable depth.  BTW, I still don't know the difference between kangaroos and wallabies: I must look it up.

Patrick Galvin (violin) and Jennifer Hou (piano) performed a glance at romance at Wesley.

20 August 2023

From NYC, the event

I'm never harsh in my writings here as I feel anyone taking on the task of jazz is committing to a demanding artistic pursuit with little obvious remuneration.  So I am not harsh with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.  They presented a fabulously capable concert here in Canberra with skills of a high level and with a hint at modernity.  But I felt somewhat underwhelmed.  I can feel that way given expectations of huge names and concert halls full of people I don't see at Smiths (although some of them were there too, but not all of them) and the very thing of jazz in a concert hall also has this effect on me.  So how did I find the group?  Some very capable playing and some solos bordering on inspirational; some superbly sweet harmonies and colours in support.  We don't often see a jazz big band, and it felt more that than jazz orchestra for much of the concert, so I found it quite educative, too, in understanding the roles of the sections, the saxes and trombones and trumpets and what colours were which and how they worked together and why and how the intensity would grow from reeds to lower brass to trumpets, not to mention the lovely harmonies inherent in the sections.  Both are obvious but not something I'd too much not put my mind to before.  I was also intrigued by how often the band would be just the rhythm section and a soloist.  It's obvious when you think of it, but so glaringly obvious when on stage in front of you.   I guess it happens in orchestras, too, with unused players looking distant even uninterested, whereas (mostly) they are counting and following.  But I was taken by the glorious colours nonetheless.  I found the audio balance a bit odd at times.  I was not so sure of the mix but there were mics on each instrument and it was obviously mixed.  I could mostly identify an instrument when I thought of it but not always with the presence I expected.  And the playing?  Very nice, as you would expect.  I was amused by some solo plays between instruments and admired some more dissonant lines at times and the chops were clearly always there.  Wynton's solos were immensely capable and always lyrical.  I think my fave was one I heard from him in the rehearsal, a bit more intriguing in timing and melodic turns while still eminently tonal.  And the repertoire?  Two sets, each of 5 tunes, and one stangely muted encore.  Set 1 was Monk, Laura, a fascinating latin outing on Jelly Roll, then a ballad and a baseball theme; set 2 was Wayne Shorter for Art Blakey, Ellington/Strayhorn, nicely African feels with Man from Tanganyika from MaCoy Tyner, a very early Mingus love song with vocals (!?!: nothing like the Mingus I know and admire), an interesting modern 3/4 from trombonist Vincent Gardner; for encore, a mild blues, Ellington Blues form orbit.  I was also amused by Wynton's educative commentary, I guess introducing the jazz-unwashed into the essence of improv, chuckling while suggesting he'd missed phrases and the like (not that we noticed!), and giving some background on Jelly Roll and Art Blakey and Mingus and more.  So this was wonderfully capable, distant being in a concert hall, somewhat of an era, quite informative and classy.  Any more?  In these days of identity, I'll mention one woman amongst the men and a colour-blind mix of white and black.

The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis performed at the new Snow Concert Hall at Canberra Grammar School.   The orchestra comprised Wynton Marsalis (host, trumpet), Obed Calvaire (drums, tambourine), Carlos Henriquez (bass), Dan Nimmer (piano), Ryan Kisor (trumpet),  Kenny Rampton (trumpet), Marcus Printup (trumpet), Chris Crenshaw (trombone), Vincent Gardner (trombone), Elliot Mason (trombone), Victor Goines (tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet), Ted Nash (alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet, flute, piccolo), Sherman Irby (alto sax, soprano sax, clarinet, flute), Nicole Glover (tenor sax, clarinet), Paul Nedzela (baritone sax, bass clarinet).

19 August 2023

From Bach's Leipzig

Now this is one that I found deeply educational and I have several pages of close notes to confirm it.  Tahlia Petrosian was in residence at the School of Music for the week, including various concerts, presentations and performances.   She's a violist, soloist, Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, KLASSIK Underground, chamber player and more.  I'd heard her on ABCRN Music Show just a few days before so was intrigued by the open public Masterclass to be run at the SOM.  I arrived perhaps 5 minutes early and she was there, alone, in the front row, waiting.  Mmm.  It was a great opportunity to chat, especially given we will be in Leipzig in a month or so, but...  Others started arriving 10 minutes later.  The first violist started around 10.15.  I'm sure the Matildas started right on time; not this.  Embarrassing.  But then we heard 4 performers - 2xviola, 1xcello, 1xviolin - of varying standards.  Tahlia was open and supportive but also demanding.   The concepts were obvious enough, but hearing them in context was an eye-opener; recognising what she spoke of in the performance and then the players' response.  And after advice to a lesser player, how to use those concepts in a more advanced performance.  These were all bowed instruments so related.  There were issues of bowing, vibrato, practice, structure and phrasing, interpretation, pizz technique and possibilities, performance, appropriateness, articulation, role of the performer.  These quotes tell some of the story: "We can never have a non-beautiful sound"; 'Be strict in practice; correct things"; "You need to have that swing to it"; "pain in sound" (Shostakovitch); "approximate playing (is unsatisfactory)".  There was lots more and nothing was unexpected or unknown other than maybe specifics of playing Shostakovitch or others, but the ears and techniques and the demands of the music were expository.  An exemplary learning exercise.

Tahlia Petrosian (viola) gave a masterclass at the ANU School of Music.

18 August 2023


We'd heard our mates, the Australia Haydn Ensemble, play a Beethoven Symphony no.6 at Wesley two years ago.   Last night they returned with another, B7.  Now this is a renowned work (the odd numbered symphonies are, but B6 is OK too) and I was looking forward to the listen, but what really hit me in the end was the effect of this concise version of a well known work.  They played it with one flute, two each of violins and violas, one each of cello and double bass so it had nothing of the huge impact of an orchestra but it had clarity and concision and I heard different things.  Well, maybe I responded to different lines that were more obvious, clear and precise even if less powerful.  Not better or worse but very different and thus informative and expressive.  And quite memorable.  Of course I listened to Jacqueline on bass, and thought of when I played this work and whether my bowing could have been quite so effective (of course not!).  The bass end was all clarity and dynamics, but then this was common throughout the players.  I remember sudden dynamic changes by all that stunned.  Maybe it's easier with fewer players to define those dynamics.  And I felt I understood the structure and changes better; they were more evident.  So this was different and hugely enjoyed.  It left me with a huge smile on my face.  But that was the second half.  The first half was another Beethoven, his Egmont Overture, similarly concise and clear.  The middle work was Boccherini String Quintet Cmin.  It was written for such an ensemble and the music was truly lovely, but nowhere near the complexity and avid life of the Beethoven, so it was lovely and the presentation was not unexpected.  It was what it was and it was lovely just for that.   So, I left with another dose of Beethoven awe and a huge smile.  BTW, they played well, too, and sounded a dream.

Australian Haydn Ensemble performed Boccherini, Beethoven Egmont and Beethoven 7 at Wesley.  AHE were Skye McIntosh and Matthew Greco (violins), Karina Schmitz and James Eccles (violas), Daniel Yeadon (cello), Jacqueline Dossor (double bass), Melissa Farrow (flute).

17 August 2023

After NYC

I ran straight from Wynton Marsalis to Wesley for an outing from the Music Academy at Canberra Girls' Grammar School.  This was a series of ensembles, flutes and saxes and clarinets and wind and vocal and just one trio of violin, flute and piano and also just two teachers sitting in, one of piano and one amongst the flute ensemble.  Now these can't justifiably be compared to Lincoln Center professionals.  These are students, reasonably early in their arts, performing locally, but they were satisfying and well regarded by my various mates with music backgrounds.  The music was fairly obscure.  I recognised a Khachaturian piece performed by that trio of violin, flute and piano and they did it well.  This was not an easy piece, all solo passages and quick fills and done really nicely.  Otherwise names were Luter and Lickl and Jeanjean: not known to me.  I did recognise the Strauss II Tritsh Tratsch Polka, lively and lovely and jovial.  I left with all my mates talking of how our music is in good hands.  I agree, and not just music.  Modern kids are impressive and thoroughly informed.  But politics intrudes everywhere (not just from me!).  To start the concert a student gave an intro with a recognition of country and I heard noisy huffs and poohpoohs from the back of the hall.  I recognised the voice and, when leaving, found him arguing in the foyer with an event organiser.  The argument went back and forth with no resolution or satisfaction as these arguments often do.  Sad that.  Two perfectly nice people (I frequently speak to both) but also some misinformation and belligerency.  To some we all do it, but it's not pretty.  My track, The Talking cure / The Pots, speaks of a similar situation on a cruise ship with a vet from Yarralumla, no less!

Students from the Music Academy at Canberra Girls' Grammar School performed at Wesley.

  • The talking cure / The Pots
  • 16 August 2023


    It was a last minute thing, but how glad I was to have got there.  The Snow Centre ran an open rehearsal of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis for students and some media.   I was welcomed as media so got to chat with trombonist Vincent Gardner who, it turns out, is a frequent visitor to Australia, although not previously to Canberra.  There were ABC TV interviews that we could listen in on.  Eric Ajaye was there and had interviewed WM for Eric's ABC Jazz broadcast next week.  Eric told me of this; it sounds a doozy to hear.  I'd heard WM on 7.30 with Laura Tingle the night before and he was inspirational in his replies: broad, incisive, specific, informed.  One answer particularly floored me with the musical awareness he imparted.  That's not unexpected of course, but it's not so common on TV interviews: sadly our pollies and some others have trained us to expect so little.  What little I heard was similarly incisive on this day.  Gradually the band came on stage for the rehearsal, very casually dressed.  I'd been listening to bassist Carlos Henriquez warming up in a side room, bowing arpeggiations and moving them chromatically, then on stage and some pizz practice.  The players on stage were casual and jokey.  Then all were there and we heard some run-throughs.  As I remember, first up a medium swing with a lovely but fairly straightforward bass solo, tight and comfy as!  Then a medley of various latin styles finishing with a few bars of early jazz.  Then a slow swing, perhaps Ellington, again so, so sweet and apt.  Maybe this was the one with the lovely WM solo.  All this was wonderful dynamics, instrumental colours, inventive solos and the like.  Then something more challenging, modern, with complex counts, faster, with an up 8-feel and period sounds amongst a modern vibe.  I wondered if this might be from his orchestral writings: they are playing WM's All rise with the SSO and MSO on this tour and it felt somewhat like this.  I got to chat with a few of the local jazz heads who attended and generally left buzzing, hugely impressed and hanging out for the gig on Friday.  A bit of authentic NYC is touching Canberra this week.

    Wynton Marsalis (trumpet) and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra played an open rehearsal at the Snow Centre at Canberra Grammar School.  Wynton Marsalis and Vincent Gardner (trombone) were interviewed by media.  The bottom ender was Carlos Henriquez (bass).

    11 August 2023

    Another Hofner variation

    That very night (the night of the Beatles tribute) Tilt played at Old Canberra Inn and Richard dropped in to play a few tunes.  We didn't play any Beatles, but I reckon the Fab Four would have taken such a selfie, at least  in their early days, if they had our mobiles.  My bass even got a look in, so again a Hofner variation.  This was great fun and we played well but we've played too little this year.  Not sure why, but probably to some degree a function of self-promotion.  Despite this blog, we are not too good at that.  Like my alter-ego studio band, The Pots, with its few monthly listeners.  I notice lots of other players, often well regarded or with significant musical history with just a few monthly listeners like my The Pots.  A mate from a schooldays band who went on to play with the best in Australia and toured OS contacted me this week and his albums have a similar listener base.  But this was a good night out, some drinks and food, some nice bass solos and grooves and for me that's the purpose of all this anyway, at least after so many years.

    Tilt Trio played at Old Canberra Inn.  Richard Manderson (tenor) sat in with James Woodman (piano), Eric Pozza (bass) and Dave McDade (drums).

    10 August 2023

    Hofner variations

    Now this was one I was looking forward to: the professionals of the RMC Band, specifically their rhythm section, playing The Beatles.  Let's face it, everyone loves the Beatles.  So this was two vocalists, male and female, and a few vocal ring-ins at times, with piano, two guitars, bass, drums.  One guitarist did a tenor flourish for one tune.  The songs were not always those expected, so we got Drive me car and Rocky Racoon along with Blackbird , Norwegian Wood, Yesterday and the like.  And the music was not always a direct Beatles take, so Got to get you into my life was the funky drive of Blood Sweat and Tears, John Farnham was mentioned in relation to Help, Drive me car was a vocal quartet with beatbox and bass vox and two voices from Bobby McFerrin.  Nice one that and playful.  Norwegian wood started with solo e-bass, all slap and tap, nothing at all like Paul's Hofner, and Blackbird had the most delightful jazz piano stylings.  Pianist Anthony later admitted to me some borrowings from Brad Mehldau.  It was pretty obvious and also glorious.  So these were not cover Beatles but takes on Beatles.  I can find that difficult if not adequately sympathetic.  The Beatles wrote telling and touching stories with wondrous melody so The Voice stylisms can be insensitive.   Maybe it's my personal preferences, but I don't find that with influences from Mehldau or McFerrin.  So be it.  But these are such well trained musicians, playing constantly, investigating one of the greats of pop.  Nice stuff.

    The Rhythm Section  of the Royal Military College Band performed a Beatles tribute at Wesley.  The band comprised Wes Tagaloa and Angie Currington (vocals), Richard Hibble (guitar, tenor), Sam McDonald (guitar), Anthony Tenikoff (piano), Jake Egan (bass) and Toby Brown (drums).

    07 August 2023

    Party time

    Now this was fun.  Richard M was to play at Debbie's birthday party.  I'm not sure how he knew Debbie but this was a personal friend so he was to attend regardless.  I wasn't up to playing, then Mike got sick and James wasn't available and in the end I played.  I got there early enough for the first band.  I walked in as a stranger carrying a double bass which worked a treat.  This was Debbie herself in the lounge singing with 2 other women and I was impressed!  Three vocals in lovely harmony, Carmel singing melody, Debbie a third above, Therese the fifth below.  Melding beautifully on Leonard Cohen Alleluia with chordal guitar and some adventurous excursions to end.  Then just one or two other tunes, sharing the lead vocals.  I don't remember which tunes but they were well known and delightfully sung, each with its own inventions, perhaps with a sharply tuned djembe and a convincing groove, and Carmel had a small keyboard, but not sure how that was used.  But those vocals just touched me; they were sharp and accurate and sweet and the songs glowed with joy and life.  Lovely.  The trio was called Gracenotes.  I look up their FB page and there are pics from concerts at the High Court, Folk Fest, NPG, Smiths, The Bunker, Major's Creek and more so they get around.  After a break Richard and I played a sax/bass duo.  I always seem to enjoy duos.  This one was open and clear with no chords but demanding to hold complex times and bass solos are pretty sparse, but a great pleasure and we had a few up dancing, so a nice outing all around with a drink and snack or two and some cheerful chats.  Great night and lovely to hear Gracenotes.

    Gracenotes are Carmel McDonell (vocals, keys), Therese Knight (vocals, guitar) and Debbie Kable (vocals, djembe).  Richard Manderson (tenor) and Eric Pozza (bass) also played a duo set.

    06 August 2023

    Aussie oi

    Black Mountain Piano Quartet are mates of mine from NCO and they played Mozart as one will, but the real feature of this concert was the Australians.  It matches the Matilda times.  They opened with Elena Katz-Chernin, admittedly born in Tashkent but now warmly welcomed as one of our great composers.  Then the Mozart, his Piano Quartet no.2 Ebmaj.  Then a break and the main work, Colin Brumby Piano quartet.  I didn't know of Colin Brumby but he's Australian in more ways than just his name and his piano quartet was considerable and impressive.  CB was from Melbourne and studied there and further in Europe then settled in Brisbane as a music academic and director of the Queensland Opera Company.  His work is extensive, for opera, choirs, orchestra, chamber group, organ and more.  Including this one piano quartet.  I heard it as an expansive opening movement (expansivo!), a nicely questing middle movement and a demanding third, all with effective push and pull between piano and strings.  A worthy work and a nice find for BMPQ.  Then a final twist.  I wonder why it is that the classics are often welcoming to metal, but thus it is.  Today it was Iron Maiden Run to the hills, capably arranged by local Warren 'Wazza' Brahms (AKA...).  So, an interesting and expansive concert from one of our local gems.  Nicely done and congrats for finding that work from Colin Brumby.

    The Black Mountain Piano Quartet performed at All Saints Ainslie.  BMPQ comprises Jason Li (violin), Thayer Parker (viola), Alex Moncur (cello) and Kathleen Loh (piano).

    05 August 2023


    This was a gloriously beautiful concert but that could be expected.  It was called B.A.C.H. with reference to the Bach motif; it was sung by Luminescence Chamber Singers so those glorious voices and harmonies; it included violinist-cum-vocalist Anna Freer as guest while one member was off the US; it included a rendition of Bach Violin Partita no.2 Dmin with its 5 movements ingeniously interspersed with Bach chorales; it started and ended with some lively early music, amusingly for me (given I did a midi take complete with whistles on Hope / The Pots) including the crab canon over palindrome Guillaume de Marchaut Ma fin est mon commencement.  I loved the violin partita and wondered over the accompanied fifth movement and admired the partita played touchingly and searchingly from memory, but what did it for me were the voices.  I consider the voice the most perfect, most complex and satisfying instrument, not surprising given it is of us  rather than an invention however impressive, and Luminescence do it so well.  Not quite perfectly, but bloody close to.  And Anna fitted wonderfully as a sit-in soprano.  Those voices and harmonies were a thing of immense beauty and exploration of harmony and rich vocalisation.  This was a concert to treasure.  Good to see that our local ArtSound recording engineer, Tim, was there experimenting with multiple mic pairings.  He does an excellent job, too.

    Luminescence performed Bach and more at Drill Hall Gallery.  Anna Freer (violin, soprano) joined choir members AJ America (mezzo soprano), Veronica Milroy (soprano), Dan Walker (tenor), Lucien Fisher (baritone) and Alasdair Stretch (bass).  Tim Lamble recorded for the performers and ArtSound.

    03 August 2023

    Light but

    This was billed as light classical and it was that but my favourites were three film themes at the end of the concert.  They were Somewhere over the rainbow, Let's call the whole thing off and Moonriver.  Now, these aren't as complex as the Elgar and Massenet and others that preceded them (perhaps other than Fritz Kriesler), but the clarity of their structures and the simple inevitability of their melodies touched me.  And the way they were so well played, of course.  These were not improvised jazz renditions, but written scores, but played by some devastatingly capable players.  They were John Ma and Marie Searles.  John is better known for playing baroque on period instruments but he told me how punk and ska were influential in his younger life, so film mid-20th century film music seems not so out of field.  Apparently Marie was influenced by the Beatles (which I understand fully) so the glorious and outspoken accompaniment from late C19th onwards is also not inconceivable.  Perhaps the most amusing conceptually was variations on Happy Birthday in the style of Beethoven.  Who would'a thunk it?  And yet it's done.  But those film themes were lovely, delightfully and touchingly played with simple, known melodies of intro/verse/chorus.  John told the story of Moonriver being initially rejected when a listening party went unmoved, but then reinstated after considerable protestation from Audrey Hepburn.  See where it is now!  A classic theme from a classic movie.  Performed at a classic concert of great skills and beauty with a lovingly moderate conception.

    John Ma (violin) and Marie Searles (piano) performed at Wesley.

    02 August 2023


    I'm pretty sure that the Romantic era came after the Classical era, but for the sake of a great initialism, I can fully understand the inversion.  The Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) came to Albert Hall and we were there.  They have been around ~10 years but only first visited Canberra late last year, so this is an early relationship.  What got me was how big this group was.  I'd expected perhaps a smaller group from the full ensemble, but no, they were ~40 players, all with their period instruments, for ARCO is a HIP group in the sense of Historically Informed Performance, meaning they seek to inform themselves of the styles and sounds and approaches of musicians of the era and play thus.  I guess they succeeded.  Certainly the music sounded more soft and mellow with gut strings and early winds and brass.  And the conductor was playing along with all, so there was a gentleness and consistency from all having to feel the rhythm that bit more personally.  But I was particularly interested in bassist Pippa Macmillan with her impressive history and some previous contacts and her residence now in Australia.  She was seriously impressive, all commitment and top-of-beat speed in fast passages and strong pizz from a Cremonese bass and that cream wood, strongly arched, underhanded period (baroque? viol?) bow.  But there were a string of friends and acquaintances and faces from other ensembles to follow and the 40-part whole to imbibe.  The program was named Midsummer dreams, with Mendelssohn Midsummer night's dream overture and Beethoven Symphony no.8 (Fmaj op.83)  and Mendelssohn Scottish Symphony (no.3 Amin op.56).  The Mendelssohn appealed to me most, despite Beethoven's pride in his no.8.  B8 was more varied and challenging but the Mendelssohn was just so lyrical and picturesque and lovely.  It seemed to fit this format of period instruments in a smallish hall with a smallish audience.  And what a pleasure that was!  It's not too often you can experience a seriously capable orchestra of so many players with period instruments in such close proximity.  Albert Hall is somewhat like the rectangular European concert halls but this is smaller and closer for all.  So, a great pleasure to hear such music so well played in such intimate surroundings.  Seriously lovely.

    The Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra (ARCO) performed Mendelssohn and Beethoven at Albert Hall.  Rachael Beesley (violin) conducted and Pippa MacMillan and Chloe Ann Williamson (bass) provided the bottom end.