Friday, August 30, 2013

Young talent

David Corcoran sings

David Corcoran and Amanda Windred sang for the Wagner Society of NSW last Sunday, accompanied by pianist Bradley Gilchrist. Both these young singers have the voice quality to make a career and it was wonderful to hear them sing. David is understudy for Siegmund in Melbourne and Amanda is planning to further her music studies in Germany next year. Organiser Leona Geeves finds young singers with the most amazing talents for these events so thank you to her too!

I sketched them as they sang/played and put the sketches online.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Privacy in the Internet age

If you thought email privacy or lack of it didn't relate to you, I recommend you read this article from Groklaw called Forced disclosure
Groklaw is an award winning information service for lawyers which is closing down.  I'm not a lawyer so you might think a law information service would hardly touch my life, but it does because it informs others whom I trust to inform me.

Groklaw is closing following the demise of Lavabit which was a small email service that shut its doors and is stuck in a legal battle with the US Government. The Lavabit owner, like others in  USA required to comply with a requests for information, cannot tell his own wife about the request, let alone any employees. They would have lost their jobs without knowing why a flourishing business was suddenly being shut down. It is so Kafkaesque that you'd think it impossible, but it is possible and it is happening.  US citizens and many of the rest of us are suddenly becoming aware that they/we live in a State that is transforming itself into East Germany. It is no accident that the Germans are the most upset about the routine privacy breaches we learned about in the documents released by Snowden .... they know the consequences better than most.

Read this article - it is worth it.

PS. As I type the labels 'privacy USA Snowden Groklaw Lavabit' into blogger it occurs to me that this post might make me a suspect worthy of watching ... and by logging on to this post, you might have made yourself a worthy candidate for watching too. See, its working .... in a surveillance state people become paranoid. So they self censor.  One way to counteract this over-surveilling state is to use these words a lot, discuss this a lot, link to posts like this and send emails with surveillance trigger words to clog the system. My admiration for Snowden increases the more I think about it.

(The image above comes from the website

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sydney Symphony Orchestra

SSO 2014 brochure and CD
The Sydney Symphony Orchestra sent out a CD with their program this year. It was a master stroke, because the pieces are there in full (well, whole movements - over an hour of music) and once you have listened to the CD you want to hear everything on it live.

I am listening to Beethoven's 7th as I write ... just bliss. Besides which of course Christine Goerke is coming to sing Elektra with the SSO in February. Bravo SSO and Maestro David Robertson. I have just subscribed!

And here is a bit of Beethoven's 7th ... swoon ...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Delicate beauty

It is August and the Australian bush is alive with flowers, flowers quite different from the garden azaleas.

When you first arrive in Australia you tend to overlook native bush flowers because they are so small, but once you have your eye in you suddenly notice these perfect little beauties and they warm your heart. They might not be as showy as garden azaleas but they are delicately beautiful and quite as delightful.

Add caption

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Azaleas not music

My predecessors in this house must have had a particular liking for azaleas as there are a lot of them in my garden, each one different and although I have lived here for some time  this is the first time I have seen them flower.

In fact this is the first time in five years that I have not been on my way to the Maribor Music Festival (Slovenia) in August. I am sorry to miss Maribor and the music this year but I am very pleased to be at home this August and able to see the azaleas bloom.

There are also irises, originally from previous gardens, given to friends during my nomadic years then transplanted again into this garden.

Spring flowers don't last long in Sydney because the weather has a tendency to change from winter to summer in a single day. You have to be here in August!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Singing and Storms

Lisa Harper-Brown sings

I drew the lovely Lisa Harper-Brown as she sang for the Wagner Society of NSW some time ago.

The society later used the picture on an event brochure and ever since then I seem to have become a sort of unofficial artist for them.

Below is my latest effort ... an online collage. It advertises an event on 25 August at the Mosman Art Gallery in Sydney. Come if you can!

Swords and Winterstorms

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wagner cards!

Zazzle has a new look ... so my zazzle Artsmitten  store has a new look too.It's where you buy arty cards and T shirts ... including lots of Wagner cards in this Wagner birthday year!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lisa Gasteen returns

Simone Young conducting ... sketched in my program
Simone Young conducted the Sydney Symphony last night with Lisa Gasteen singing Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder. She sang with tenderness and secure voice delighting the Sydney audience. The last time I heard Lisa Gasteen  sing was in 2004 when she sang a wonderful Brünnhilde in the South Australian Ring Cycle. In 2008 she pinched a nerve in her neck while picking cumquats of all things and was forced to give up singing. Let's hope this is concert is a portend for good things to come.  

Young then conducted a fiery Bruckner's 9th Symphony and judging by the response the audience would have happily heard the whole thing twice over.

Addendum: I have just read through the notes about Wagner in my program and I am wondering why those who write about his music often seem to fall into the trap of repeating scuttlebutt and innuendo.  I looked the writer up and discover he is a not-unsuccessful local composer. I recommend to him that he read Wagner's letters to Mathida Wesendonck. I am half way through them, reading them slowly and often backtracking as they are so captivating. They explain so much about Tristan and Isolde. I don't think you could read them (together with Mathilda's notes about them) and still write the sort of commentary he wrote in the notes. The Lieder and music of course speak for themselves.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Portrait of Deborah Humble

Deborah Humble sang the role of Amneris in Aida in Melbourne recently and I sketched her while she practised in Sydney. That was in March but the boxes of kitchen cupboards blocked access to my studio until last month and I couldn't paint the portrait I had waiting in my head. When I did eventually pick up the brush it was Deborah's wonderful mane of auburn hair that wanted to be painted, not my internal images of Aida. So that is what happened and this is the portrait.

Yesterday I finished uploading the portrait and also some pictures of progress of the painting.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Twenty thousand applauding fans

If you are a Wagner fan ... or even if you aren't, here is a video (in German) to entrance you!

Ring Cycle in London (click on the photo)

Monday, August 05, 2013

Vocal high jinx

How do singers get their voices to perform vocal high jinx? In this video the charming Joyce DiDonato tells us exactly how she practises... and defines Bel Canto along the way.

Joyce DiDonato sings (click on the picture)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Our Orwellian age

ABC news in America reports that low level NSA analysts have access to tools that let them target whoever they like. All they need is an email address.

The problem is the lack of transparency. People who know anything are sworn to silence. I wonder how many people have suffered unwarranted surveillance by someone they know who is just nosey, who have reported it but who have not been able to talk about it because all this stuff is top secret?

The world is much more Orwellian than we imagined and when you watch the the US Government's response to people who are trying to ring an alarm bell it is even more scarey.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

A room with a view

View to the garden
I hadn't realised until my kitchen was renovated how important a room with a view is to ones sense of well being.

I was banned from the sun room with view to the garden to a back room with a view to a fence. You'd think it wouldn't make much difference if you are looking at a computer anyway, but it did!

Now I am back in the room with the view, but the rest of the house remains to be sorted. Everything had to be moved during the renovations and it will take a while to sort out.
View to the fence and house next door