Thursday, January 27, 2005

The wonderful world of blogging

LATELY I've been exploring the blogosphere a little more extensively, and have been particularly enjoying the enormous range produced locally, in Australia and Melbourne in particular.

Some of the blogs I've been returning to regularly are: Anonymous Lefty, Hecho in Mexico,, Darpism. Some of my favourite overseas blogs are: walky talky, boingboing and the frequently bizarre web zen.
Hot and bothered

OVER THE last few days we've had some pretty stinking weather, but there was a late change yesterday which was rather pleasant. Sleeping has not been easy, though sitting up late tends to get me tired enough to go out fairly quickly. The forecast for the next few days is a bit more manageable - high 20s to low 30s.

My problems with the upcoming rehearsals and concerts have been largely ironed out, though I may have to top and tail Monday rehearsals. At least I won't be bored. We kick off on Monday with our first Gloriana rehearsal for the year.

Last night I got some nice (if rather warm) exercise when I walked to Carlton to meet B&P at the Nova cinema where we saw I [heart] Huckabees. It's a very enjoyable, intelligent and funny film; Lily Tomlin just breaks me up. Afterwards we all had dinner at the Park Hotel where, despite its being very full (I always forget about public holidays) our dinners came fairly promptly. I had a quite nice Thai chicken salad, P the matching beef salad and B the "grown-ups" fish fingers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


I'M AFRAID I've painted myself into a corner. I had an email from GL yesterday about the upcoming St Matthew Passion at St John's Southgate (to be done in cooperation with the VCA). Oh goodie, I thought, enthusiastically.

Well, no, as it turns out, things are never that simple. They're planning on doing it on Palm Sunday -- which just happens also to be the date of the first Gloriana concert. And the day after the first Gombert concert. So I sent an urgent email to Gloriana's beloved leader who rang me back later. A conversation ensued in which it was revealed that AV and I are not the only Gloriana members who want to sing in this passion. Moving the Gloriana concert later bumps into Easter and/or the school holidays so AR in his wisdom has elected to move the concert forward by a week. Many thanks Andrew.

Now I just have the problem of the Gombert concert the night before... oh, and how do I juggle Monday evening rehearsals for two groups at once? Well, I think there may well be a bit of spreading myself thinly over some rehearsals; leaving one early to arrive late at another.

Now let's have a look at my work rosters...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Vale Victoria!

THE WONDERFUL Spanish soprano Victoria de los Angeles died on the weekend. She was 81. I heard her sing only once, in 1986, when she gave a recital accompanied by Geoffrey Parsons, also sadly missed.

She sang with a glorious tone and great intelligence; the program included the de Falla Six spanish songs as well as some fascinating songs by Montsalvatge. At 62 she rarely betrayed her age and, if my memory serves me correctly, she performed a number of encores to thank the very enthusiastic audience. After the recital she met members of the audience in the foyer, looking for all the world like a small, pink puffball (I recall a mass of ostrich feathers), and she charmed all who came in contact with her.

She was one of the great singers of the 50s and 60s, a time of not a few greats, and leaves a large recorded legacy which includes 21 complete operas.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Gombert fun

SATURDAY'S rehearsal went off well, whole thing falling together very nicely. After rehearsal I went shopping with B&P as usual, although it was quite a late shop (P&B are very accommodating to my rehearsal-driven availability). Afterwards we made the mistake of having lunch in the food hall. Quick and convenient, but not necessarily very good.

In the evening I went to B&P's for dinner where I met IH, an old friend of B's. We had a very pleasant meal: Thai fish cakes to start, bifteks (sp?) with chips and salad, and berries and sillabub for dessert.

During the course of the evening's conversation I discovered that IH knows BN (through a MU/Tin Alley Players connection) and M& KP (through his job at Gennezzano). This fact didn't surprise P, who I think expects me to know everyone in Melbourne, or at least, everyone B doesn't know.

On Sunday Tat picked me up and we drove to Ballarat, arriving a bit late for the afternoon rehearsal at St Patrick's cathedral. Afterwards we went for a bit of a drive around, stopping by the lake for a walk before heading off to see what was left of Lake Learmonth. It dried up during the drought and despite all the rain we've had over the last few months is still an ex-lake. It could be years before it returns to its previous form, if ever.

Then it was back to town for dinner which we had at the pub opposite St Pat's - I had a chicken and mango salad which was quite nice and Tat had a greek salad. Many of the others in the choir had rented a house for the weekend and some of them went back there before the concertthere leaving a hard core of us at the pub.

Soon it was time for the concert and, duly changed and tarted up, we filed out to a fully-packed cathedral. Both the Haydn and the Mozart went well; there was a short break between the works during which we retreated to the sacristy while the obligatory end-of-festival speeches were made. The orchestra was fabulous and the soloists sang beautifully. In all it was a very satisfying performance.

There was a post-concert reception in the hall for all performers and audience members with tables groaning with all the best on offer in country cakes and slices. I had a quick graze before Tat and I hit the road for home.

Friday, January 14, 2005

It's better with a band

WE HAD our first orchestral rehearsal tonight and it went off well. They're a good band, many of whom have played for various concerts I've sung in over the past few years. Tonight we were missing a viola, three trumpets and the timpani which meant that there were a few holes, especially in the Haydn. The soloists are sounding good, especially Helen.

The weather has been warm over the last few days; Tuesday night in particular was very hot making sleeping rather difficult. It cooled down a bit and it's been quite pleasant today, what I saw of it. Let's hope it's not too hot in Ballarat on Sunday.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Where is Mozart/Haydn?

LAST NIGHT was the first rehearsal for Sunday's Gombert concert in Ballarat. The program, which I've probably mentioned before, is Haydn's Nelson mass and Mozart's Vespers. It was nice to be singing again, I wonder what's on the menu for Gloriana this year?

We sang straight through both works, with JOD accompanying on the piano, before having a break after which we spent some time working on the Mozart. The Haydn is a fun piece and not terribly challenging; the Credo is not very interesting. The Mozart is much more interesting; it's an odd experience singing his setting of Dixit dominus after having done the Handel so recently. Such a completely different approach.

In Goodall time

LATELY I'VE been listening to the ENO/Goodall recording of Twilight of the gods in bed. It's in English.

Initially I was concerned about its glacial speeds, getting the sensation on occasion that the whole thing was going to grind to a halt. But as the piece progressed, I realised that, as I could actually understand what was going on, it was all starting to make sense. I'm not convinced that these speeds would work in German, and I still need to hear more of it, more often, but I'm starting to understand why so many people regarded this production recording so highly.

Rita Hunter and Alberto Remedios as Brünnhild and Siegfried are glorious; I'm less keen on Aage Haugland's Hagen which isn't menacing, or dark, enough for my liking. And occasionally the two sides of the orchestra are not completely together, though this effect is probably exaggerated by my listening on headphones which brings everything up close.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The music man

ANDREW FORD is terrific. I've just got back from doing the shopping and while I was away I was listening to this morning's Music show. At this time of the year it's made up of highlights from the previous year. This morning the highlight was his wonderful interview with Gavin Bryars, a fascinating composer and equally fascinating man.

The point about Ford is that he truly is a musical polymath (I don't know about broader subjects but have my suspicions that he has a good knowledge about most things); he has the ability to talk intelligently on music from almost any genre or period. And he gets marvellous, interesting interviews out of the most diverse people. I'm sure he does a huge amount of research, but there's no denying that the man's own knowledge is encyclopaedic. He's also a bloody good broadcaster with that direct delivery the best of them have - you feel he's talking just to you. I hope the ABC appreciates the gem they have in him.

Brent and Arnoud

LAST NIGHT I went to the Metropolitan hotel in North Melbourne to catch up with Brent and Arnoud who are in Oz for a few weeks. It was great to see B again and finally to meet A; there were quite a few people there including B's sister, father and uncles -- as well Debby S and Kathryn P arrived, mainly to see Jonathan W who was coming later. I left before he, or Vaughan, arrived. I hope to see B and A again before they return to the Netherlands, perhaps for a meal; I hardly had a chance to talk to A and would really like to get to know him better.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Return of the DVDs

I PICKED up most of the replacement DVDs this afternoon. They stuffed up on one on order but I quickly set that right - and the woman looking after me had identified what I really wanted almost before I got home. God, she's good.

One of the neighbours went away last weekend - we chatted before they went and I promised to keep an eye on their place. I still come home expecting to find my house in a mess (well, worse than normal), windows broken and stuff missing. It is taking me a lot more to get over this last burglary. The worst part was its coming so soon after the previous one. And I'll be glad when all the replacements are finished; must get on to the assessor tomorrow and find out what's happening.

Visited Dr D and the Lotus Master tonight. Had a fabulous dinner and watched digital TV on their wonderful wide-screen telly - it's great. The LM is off to Las Vegas for an IBM conference (yes, that Lotus) next week and is following it up with some time in San Francisco. Dr D and I must do some serious German revision over the next month before German 2A starts in February.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Not much...

... HAPPENING at the moment, just work and that's pretty quiet.

Last night I caught up with Lorraine; we went to see The Incredibles, the new Pixar film, which we both enjoyed. I found the designs truly entrancing and particularly enjoyed the retro credits sequence. The story was a departure for Pixar as well, depicting people rather than animals or inanimate objects; very early-Bond in parts. Good fun.

I'm planning to catch up with Dr D and the Lotus master tomorrow night and will get to see Peter on Thursday. Today was spent doing a little cleaning but not much else before coming into work.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

First for the year

I'VE JUST got home after a New Year's party (my first for many years) at Peter C's (from Gombert). Tat and I went and met up with a number of other Gomberts. It was a nice relaxed evening, I ate a couple of sausages and chicken wings and drank a couple of beers (so unlike me). Grantly McD was also there; it was nice to see him again.

At midnight we all made a lot of noise, much kissing and toasting, then Tat and I quietly slipped away.

The past year has been good for me, with two trips away, but not so good for the country or the world -- especially this last week.

I would love to think that each of my readers has made a donation to help those whose lives have been destroyed by the tsunami; every little bit helps.

Let's hope that 2005 will be better for everyone.