21 April 2024

Valé Niels

It was with sadness but also a great deal of musical admiration and fond memories that we farewelled Niels Rosenhdahl.   There were many people present, musicians, friends and family, and plenty of the performers were on stage through a string of combinations.  Probably most had played with Niels.  Michael and Eric from Straight Up; Leigh, Aron and Sam and The Lethals; a string of duets; finally, a big band assembled by Sally Greenaway playing a song from a UNT mate, a tune by Sally, and two burners written by Niels.  The band was fabulous, tight and sharp and exciting, true to Niels' memory.  So a sad but respectful outing all round.  Valé Niels, you will be in our memories.  And CJ's thoughts for family,  John, Teresa, Holly and Matilda.

The Niels Rosendahl Memorial Concert was held in the Tim Murray theatre at Canberra Grammar School.

19 April 2024

Small world


This was M17 ArtSpace for an exhibition by a photographer friend, Brian Jones.  The title was Life in the Old Dog, Yet and the theme was seniors in facial portraits and in activity to display their vibrant and often athletic lives.  I was amused to see relatively unusual athletic pursuits, eg, discus and butterfly, but especially to find a string of faces I recognised, not just Brian and Jill. Not that I knew all the names.  But muso Nitya I do know and he was there and we chatted and also with Jenny, a regular at the U3A Jazz Appreciation Society who also paints surrealism and otherwise mused over the other portrait faces.  We viewed an amusing video called Everlasting happiness by Deborah White and I chatted the work of lawyers with a guy viewing the Daylight Moon exhibition in another room and we explored a quilt-like exhibition of coloured paper squares by Helen Heslop concerning abusive relationships.  Add a few wines and general jollity (ignoring the abuse for a while) and this was a lovely outing, both social and purposeful.  But let's face it, Canberra is awash with purposeful events and there's only so much time but I enjoyed this one immensely.

Brian Jones (photographer) and others presented exhibitions at M17 ArtSpace.

18 April 2024

Live or listened

I've got into recording over the years and most recently into multitrack mixing and mastering, mainly of gigs at Smiths.  I find it fascinating and even, in some ways, better or more revealing than being in attendance.  Less fun, perhaps, and less personal, but revealing.  So I can solo the bass or sax of other and follow the thinking, the improvs, in detail and with repeats.  Fascinating.  Those gigs don't get written up here but here is one.  Alex asked me for a few words on a particularly intriguing and adventurous outing, his Fauna & Flora.  The band is Fauna and the guest was Flora (Carbo).  I was entranced.  Here are my considered and touched words on this concert that I know only from my spare room home studio.

Hearing Fauna and Flora for the first time was a revelation direct from Miles and memory.  Jazz lovers have heard these mutating, intriguing, explorative instrumentations but probably not in the flesh.  Realising that is a stunner.  The emotive melodies, the searching harmonies, the richly fluid accompaniment, the floats and grooves and improvisations melt into the consciousness.  The tunes merge, originals or known standards, to one, whole; one generous, exploratory set, then another.  Tunes with time to live in, explored and imbibed as your mind wanders with wonder.  How am I so surprised? So intrigued?  How is this so fresh, because it is so fresh.  And as for the band's name, I'm still chuckling over that one.  I didn't see Fauna and Flora but I did hear them, intrigued and deeply touched as I mixed and mastered after the event.  If at all possible, see them!

Fauna was joined by guest Flora Carbo (alto) at Smiths.  Fauna are Alex Raupach (trumpet), Wilbur Whitta (piano), Max Alduca (bass) and Jack Rosenzweig (drums).  And thanks to Alex for the pic.

14 April 2024

Tallis to today

Prayers and lamentations was the title of the concert by Oriana Chorale with a range of Biblical and other quotes.  The obvious one and ever popular was Thomas Tallis lamentations of Jeremiah from the a capella first half.  Interestingly the two parts of Tallis sandwiched a modern work by Roxanna Panufnik.   It was a little confusing and I thought Tallis was mightily modern at one stage but it all resolved in the end and I loved both pieces although the Panufnik was my fave.  This is stunningly dissonant complex harmony apparently  minor against major tonalities but I guess all manner of flattened notes.  My admiration to the choir for handling this one!  Fascinating (listening now on Spotify: Deus, Deus Meus from her Westminster Mass).  The second half was Stravinsky and Lili Boulander , both modern.  I've played some Stravinsky and love it but never Boulanger, Lili or Nadia.  I jokingly compared notes with Megan at the end and she was not at all surprised that my choices were Panufnik and Stravinsky.  And how well this was done!  The choir was superbly strong, complex, reliable, and the Stravinsky required serious volume at times.  The accompaniment, just piano, clarinet and violin, was just as impressive and satisfying.  This was no walk in the park.  There was complexity and volume and challenging harmonies and odd time feels to navigate and all was wonderfully present.  The Boulanger also featured a high solo male voice and that worked a treat too.  So a great pleasure but more importantly a stunningly interesting and capable presentation.  Interesting, too were the arrangements: Stravinsky by Stefan Cassomenos; Boulanger by Dan Walker.  Quite an overwhelming outing and nice to be asked to record.

Oriana Chorale performed at All Saints Ainslie under Dan Walker (MD, conductor) with accompaniment by Helena Popovic (violin), Milan Kolundzija (clarinet) and Ronan Apcar (piano).  And a few mates, including Liz from Wesley and Imogene from my recent wedding band.

12 April 2024


Australian Haydn Ensemble called the concert Heavenly Sopranos and sure enough most of the program featured a soprano and mezzo pairing.  AHE doesn't often perform with singers (3/28 posts on CJ).   This program featured several works by Johann Adolf Hasse, a renowned opera composer in his time,, Francesco Durante, a teacher of Pergolesi, and the feature, Stabat Mater by Pergolesi, who, interestingly, died young aged 28.  Stabat Mater has been around this Easter.  There were two other performances before this one.  I missed both but it was a topic of discussion.  Easter usually has a few double-ups, as there are recent historical double ups from Beethoven.  The playing was superb, as expected.  The styles of this era aren't too challenging, but I still was breathtaken by the unity of many lines, especially where all strings double timed with unison fills or where the violins expressed together or partly with viola.  There was a theorbo, too, quiet but often identifiable as a guitar plucked tone, and this bassist was hugely admiring of Pippa's obvious international experience and delicate skills.  I liked the first half but was somewhat perplexed by Stabat Mater.  Yeah, her son was going to save the world but he's still dying on the cross in front of her, so why is the music quite so light?  There are touches of tragedy but not much.  But the crux of it is the baroque and church thinking of the period, I guess.  Nonetheless, a stunning bit of performance.  Loved it.

Singers Celeste Lazarenko (soprano) and Helen Sherman (mezzo soprano) were accompanied by the Australian Haydn Ensemble at Wesley.  On the night, the AHE were Skye McIntosh (director, violin), Matthew Greco (violin), Karina Schmitz (viola), Anton Baba (cello), Pippa Macmillan (bass), Simon Martyn-Ellis (theorbo) and Joanna Butler (chamber organ).

11 April 2024

Knowing the past

I've just been listening to a recent find, the LA drum/vocals duo Knower, and in some way I wonder if Robert Schmidli's concert is somewhat of the same stunning effect for another era.  Admittedly a very very different era, but Beethoven was a genius and a stunning appearance on the scene and maybe Bach was all encompassing and inventive and Chopin, too, I guess.  Maybe I'm pushing the story too far.  But check out Knower and here's my take on Robert's gig.  The music was Bach, Beethoven and Chopin on solo piano.  Nothing unusual there, but the works were early ones and inventive, Beethoven adding a fourth movement to the piano sonata form and perhaps a romantic aspect to the music, being dedicated to a contessa, and Bach's was perhaps a little old fashioned, as if anything can be bad form from Bach, with various section and fugues and variations and repetitions and changes of tempo and dynamics and more.  And Chopin, who usually misses me, was a pleasure, perhaps political with a Polish uprising against the Russian emperor and a quoted Sleep little Jesus huddled within.  I immensely enjoyed each one for its interest and performance as I don't always enjoy solo piano to this extent.  Strange, because  admire the instrument, being an orchestra in a box, but I can be somewhat overwhelmed given exactly that.  The pieces were Bach Toccata Dmaj BWV912, Beethoven Sonata Eb op.7 no.4 (Grand sonata) and Chopin Scherzo Bmin op.20 no.1.  I enjoyed them all.  Thanks to Robert.

Robert Schmidli played Bach, Beethoven and Chopin at Wesley,

07 April 2024

Darkness and light

It's amusing that this was the second gig with Chris Latham as MD where we sat in darkness.  The darkness was for the projected images of modern art that we were accompanying.  OK as long as your batteries on your music stand lights were fresh!  (They were).  Batteries for tuners, too, because the basses had to tune down E>Eb for the final tune.  Otherwise, this was reverent, as Chris' concert are.  We were located at the Chapel at the ACCC (Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture) near the huge cross on the lake.  The space is cement and thus has its own acoustic.  The music was a string of short pieces, from Bach and Rach through a string of lesser-known Europeans and others, Weinberg, Klein, Weiner and Kattenberg as well Simon, Walton, Koicki and Dreyfus and a segment of lovely FS Kelly songs.  I so love the gentle and touching music of FS Kelly, deceased young in WW1.  Chris had gathered and often arranged the tunes. Our singer was Christina Wilson with her soprano of power and obvious invention that showed when she sang a complex but wordless segment.  Fumiyo Yamamoto also featured on one violin solo.  Let it not be thought that short and predominantly slow means easy.  There's difficulty in delicate bowing and in unexpected counts.  It's nothing like fast incessant Beethoven parts with their own difficulties.  So another successful and purposeful performance with Chris Latham.  Thanks again Chris.

Chris Latham (conductor, musical director, arranger. violin) led Musica da Camera in a string of tunes at the Chapel at ACCC.  Christina Wilson (soprano) sang and Fumiyo Yamamoto (violin) and Margaret Kahn (cello) soloed.

04 April 2024

A fave outing

It may not be the favourite outing but it is a favourite outing.  That's the RMC Band when it puts on a gig, in concert band format or other.  Today it was the Woodwind group and it was widely varied with all manner of wind instruments and just one guitar.  I like it because it's just so pro.  Sometimes just a little moderate but always decently done, well trained and capable, understanding and varied.  My Mum's in town and she came to this one and asked if they are soldiers first.  No, trained musicians first, although with uniforms and some level of military training and I'm sure a responsibility to pick up arms when the latest enemy invades.  (Don't worry, we usually get there first!)  Whatever.  The music was intriguing and well played, though, and hugely varied in combinations.  Two clarinet solos and one oboe; a Celtic group, a woodwind quartet and clarinet quintet and woodwind trio and sax quartet and the combined Wind group.  Music from those Irish tunes to a modernist clarinet solo using delay with repeats on the beat and mixing octaves.  A Beethoven movement and a Bernstein overture (Candide) and a Richard Strauss Serenade.  And a string of modern pieces otherwise.  Really quite adventurous even if in matching, marching khaki.  My favourite?  Perhaps the Beethoven for the familiarity or the Strauss for the conductor-led richness of the bigger band or the solo clarinet with that effective delay or the solos with notable chops or just the delirious scalar lines that bounced through the ensembles in a few pieces.  In the end, I think the Woodwind trio playing Kaspar Kummer Trio for flute, clarinet and bassoon op.32 was my favourite with the merging of tonalities and the capable playing but it was all a pleasure.  That's how I find a capable, workmanlike, prof gig like this: a huge pleasure, as always and as expected.

The Woodwind Group of the Band of the Royal Military College (Duntroon) performed at Wesley.

03 April 2024

Egypt II

It's odd but there's not one but two major exhibitions of Egyptiana in Australia this year: one from the mecca, the Cairo Museum, on display in Sydney; the other, from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (Dutch National Museum of Antiquities).  I wrote of the Sydney exhibition and I was overwhelmed.  Our Canberra collection was less but still worthy.  I am coming to realise that Egyptian displays all cover a similar field: the mummies and statues of stone and wood and ushabti and models and writing and beads and the Rosetta stone and more stone.  Stone lasts, as do beads and even mummified bodies.  Timber and parchment is more problematic, but Egypt is dry so lends itself to preservation.  (There's even a loaf of bread in the Cairo museum).  I've seen lots of this before, but it's still a great pleasure to revisit these eras that are so well represented overseas but little here and so much in our cultural history.  My faves this time may have been the five mummies, all still wrapped in linen, so the precision and neatness of the linen wrapping is obvious.  Mummification is a stange process to us (not least the hook for removing the brain through the nose; one was on display here) but an act of respect for them.  And the remains of paint on timber and stone that's just a hint of vibrant colours that we fail to appreciate.  (Roman and other remains suffer the same predicament).  And a mere C19th print of statues showing how deeply they were buried in sand until recent researches and tourism (Ramese II at Marnack??).  And the footwear that's just a modern thong, if not in modern rubber.  So I've mostly seen this all before but I never tire of the revisits.

Discovering Ancient Egypt is an exhibition of Egyptiana from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden at the National Museum of Australia.