Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kaufmann talks Lohengrin

A fascinating interview with tenor Jonas Kaufmann about Lohengrin and about 'new' productions of 'old' operas. You can see why Kaufmann's performances are so memorable - he not only has a lovely voice he thinks abut what he is singing.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ralph Hotere, visionary artist

Vale Ralph Hotere, visionary New Zealand artist and activist who died on 24 February aged 81. His work has an uncanny knack of etching itself on your memory, never to be forgotten even if seen only once.

Ralph Hotere (photo:
Ralph Hotere

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mädels and music

I am not very good at throwing things away as I always think there must be another use for them. Same for drawings. Perhaps I should have discarded these pre-2006 life drawings but I kept them and  today made a new composition. It reminds me of the painting of the girl with violin by the Italian Orazio Gentileschi.

Mädels and music
Young Woman Playing a Violin by
Orazio Gentileschi (1563–1639)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Electric Violin

Last Friday I saw Richard Tognetti play Brett Dean's Electric Preludes (commissioned by Jan Minchin) on his electric violin.  The violin is bright red .... very fitting.

Electric Tognetti

Review of concert  and chat between composer and violinist

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ya-Fei Chuang plays Rachmaninoff

How's this for fancy finger work?

Under the duck's wing

Today I sorted through the boxes of materials I had accumulated while writing Blue Tulips. As I worked a tiny (about 3cm wide) circle of paper dropped out of one of the files. It was a small drawing from mid 2005 that had eluded my search when I looked for it to include in the book as an illustration. I had not remembered it was so small ... had probably looked for a larger drawing. It says a lot about my state of mind at the time when I drew it.

Under the duck's wing
I kept the cards, the letters, the original emails (not sure why these) but discarded the draft versions of the book. I had a lot of disc versions as I knew it would be some years before I could work on it again and I was afraid of loosing the material in the interim. I didn't guess there would be a seven year gap between finishing the story and publishing it.

Today as I sorted I thought of Richard Wagner who had a seventeen year gap between the third (well, half way through the third) and fourth operas of the Ring Cycle. Like me, Wagner moved a good deal and I suppose he also had boxes of materials he had to take with him. My sympathies Mr Wagner.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Famous Ring Documentary

I recently discovered a brilliant summation of Wagner's Ring Cycle on You Tube. It's called In the Eye of the Ring.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Anthony Ernst, exceptional presenter

Anthony Ernst was a good speaker when I saw him 10 years ago but he has become an exceptional speaker since then.  This weekend he spent two days presenting his ideas about Wagner's Ring Cycle to a gathering of 150 Sydney music lovers and at the end he got a well-deserved standing ovation.

Anthony Ernst at the Sydney Weekend workshop.
He is not only a good speaker (he spoke for one and a half days without notes), he is a thinker and a lateral thinker at that. His wide musical experience (he currently works with the Strasbourg Orchestra) enables him to make connections in the music that elude many and it certainly also helps that he started his career as a student of voice.

I had always thought of the Ring Cycle as a story about the demise of the aristocracy, which it is at one level, but it is also a story about the rape of the environment and how we can rescue our world. This is the story at a deeper level which I had only recently begum to appreciate.

Anthony started by taking us on a historical journey through the time from when Wagner was 20 up to the time when he started writing the Ring Cycle when he was 40 years old;  from bucolic landscapes to the industrial revolution, a change that deeply affected Wagner.  It is a change that is still working through the system today which makes the Ring Cycle as pertinent today as it was in his century, perhaps even more so.

Not many operas address current issues and present a philosophy for dealing with them.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Wagner weekend

This weekend I am going to a weekend workshop called Forging Meaning out of Music Heritage, Complexity and Vision of the Ring with Dr Antony Ernst as presenter.
Anthony Ernst addressing NSW Wagner Society members in 2002

I made this sketch of Anthony Ernst when he addressed the NSW Wagner Society in 2002 and it was  later used on the cover of a book he published with the support of the Wagner Society.

Since then Anthony Ernst has been in Germany working with several European orchestras. It will be very interesting hearing if and how his views have changed.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Elisabeth Meister - British Soprano

I just discovered the British soprano Elisabeth Meister's blog. She writes so well about the rigors of a singer's life .... delightful stuff.
elisabeth meister's blog

Sunday, February 03, 2013

A jacket for all time

A long time ago, when women were wearing clothes with large padded shoulders I bought an Escada jacket  It is 80% linen, 10%silk, 10% cotton which is a combination that never seems to crumple and I wore day in day out for several years. It was so beautifully made that I was never able to throw it away despite its unfashionable huge shoulders.

Today I undid the part of the lining that had been the last thing sewn up and turned it inside out. When you look on the inside of expensive European clothes you see why they are expensive. Everything is properly reinforced, the jacket can be turned inside out through a gap just wide enough, the sleeves are eased in with double tapes and, when you try to alter them, you find it is easy!

 In no time at all I had taken out one layer of padding (the foam had completely crumbled but the other wadding was intact), trimmed down the shoulders and sewn it together again.

That jacket reminds me of good washing machines that are easy to service and never wear out.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

What happened to February?

14C Gosford, 15C Sydney, 15C Dunedin, 3C in Hamburg

Fifteen degrees? In February? In Sydney?

It is nearly nine o'clock and 15C (feels like 9C with wind chill factor said the radio announcer). Dunedin is 15C too but it is 12 degrees latitude further south.

[Dunedin is at latitude 45° 52' South, Sydney is 33° 52' South]

In Sydney February is usually so hot and humid you think of moving elsewhere, like Dunedin. Today you would move to Dunedin to get dry because it is not only cold in Sydney it is raining solidly.

A lot of Sydney events will be washed out. Who wants to see Opera in the Park in pouring rain? The poor performers will have to wear woollie jumpers.

The garden though is happy and sighs with relief. A long drink is very welcome after six dry months and so much heat.
wet wet
Burnt by 46C 2 weeks ago and happy with 14C and rain today