Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Could Sydney build a Frankfurt sized opera house?

Frankfurt opera house is 'Klein aber fein' (small but elegant). The acoustics in the hall are excellent and while it is big enough for a substantial audience it is not so big as to be overwhelming.

Sydney could solve both it's opera house acoustic problems and not-enough-music-venues problems by building a small house such as this and using the Sydney Opera House for miked performances.

Der fliegende Holländer in Frankfurt

Erika Sunnegårdh sings Senta
I saw the Flying Dutchman in Frankfurt on Thursday. It was a very satisfying performance.  The costumes and set design were timeless, the costumes just old fashioned enough and the set chaotic enough to fit into several epochs, so instead of thinking about them you listen to the music. I can't think of a better recommendation for an opera production. The set designer's master stroke was a gigantic revolving propeller which appeared as a backdrop whenever the ghost ship was about.

All the singers did credit to their roles. 

Erika Sunnegårdh was a marvelous Senta. Some years ago I took part in a crowdfunding project which was started to enable her to make a CD so I was interested to see her on stage. I discovered that she can act as well as sing and the role of Senta suits her voice. She was a delight to watch.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Slate and quartz

The small village of Weisel, like many of its neighbours on the hills overlooking the Rhine River, has a lot of houses with slate rooves (Ziegeldächer) which is not surprising since slate mines are common in the area. They have been closed as they are no longer an economic proposition.

It was mined nearby and the remains of the mines are still visible.  The slate is interwoven with quartz and black and white rocks seem to ooze from the mine sites. 

Slate and quartz

Slate pile

Friday, May 19, 2017

Satu Vänskä and Locatelli

Today I heard the most extraordinary piece of music. Satu Vänskä played the Locatelli Violin Concerto in D Major at Angel Place Concert Hall in Sydney. It was wonderful inspiring playing of a fiendishly difficult work (I think you have to see it performed to appreciate the achievement) and I would have gone to a second concert just to hear it again but unfortunately today was its last performance. I hope she revives it and tours it elsewhere in future. 

Ruth Crawford Seeger (left)
with sketch of Satu playing her music.
In my opinion Satu is changing  the way people view female performers by scheduling and playing a work such as this. The first piece on the program was the Crawford Seeger's Andante for Strings which somehow underlined the message. Ruth Crawford was creating marvellous music when she married Charles Seeger, became Pete Seeger's step-mother, had children of her own and was then consumed by 'other duties'.

After the Locatelli piece the woman sitting next to me said she was lost for words and I am sure she spoke for many in the audience. 

Go Satu!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Mt Ruapehu painting

Mt Ruapehu - waterccolour
When I was in New Zealand last year a snowstorm hit the Central Plateau just before I got there. The desert road opened just before I drove north from Taihape and the mountains were as beautiful as I have seen them.

Sun shone on the snow-covered slopes as I drove very slowly along the icy roads and I stopped to paint a watercolour of the view across to Mount Ruapehu.

Red canvas beginning
The painting was a pretty good approximation of what I saw except that the tussock grass was not as bright as it remained in my memory.

Earlier this year I painted Ruapehu again based on the watercolour. This time I used acrylic and a palette knife which seemed appropriate considering the rocky angular structure of my subject. I started with a red canvas as there has been so much red-brown in the desert scene.  
Mt Ruapehu - acrylic on canvas

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Music, coffee, etchings, art

Coffee grinder with (Wagner) music
At Art School in 2008 I had a wonderful time in the print workshop. 'Print' as in etching, intaglio,aquatint, relief ... not print as in photocopying.

Before spending time in the print workshop I had thought that multiples of etchings were as easy to produce as photocopies, that one turned the handle several times and out would pop several etchings, all the same. Little did I know. (If you do see etchings all exactly the same, with multiple colours, then you are  looking at work of a print-master.)

I worked like a crazy and learned a great deal. One of the etchings I made was of a coffee grinder - with some of Wagner's music in the background (of course).

The other day I found the  coffee grinder cutout I worked from and was about to throw it away. Then I discovered it has a charm of its own.
Coffee, coffee, coffee.

As my print teacher Neil Emmerson told me, the product is sometimes an e-product - and that's fine!

Neil is celebrating 10 years at Dunedin Art School this month with an exhibition of work by teachers and students.