11 December 2017

Noël Noël!

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Australian Brandenburg Choir

Melbourne Recital Centre

Saturday 9 December 2017

Carols in the Domain? No, because 1. I live in Melbourne and 2. the music is rubbish. Why then did Saturday’s ABO program sound as if I were there?

Untill this year Oz Brandenburg’s Noël Noël! programs have been an oasis of joy, intelligence, clever musicology and superb performance – just as the rest of the 2017 series was. Maddeningly, last night’s was CitD without the under-bum grass.

Constructing a program around a musicals singer was dangerous. That alone prevented the development of any logical program thread. There’s not much American theatre Christmas music that’s anything more than supermarket junk. Those songs that were programmed last night demonstrated that.

ABO is one of the best baroque bands in the world but I got no obvious enjoyment, no enthusiasm from them last night. Incredible performance values in their playing of course but the sparkle, the wit – something to work with – was missing. The superb, spikey arrangements of familiar and unfamiliar Christmas music or the very interesting (intriguing?) Middle Eastern and Nordic programs of of a year or so back were not there. Too much saccharine muzak.

Singing Fauré’s very legato Cantique de Jean Racine with a very percussive piano didn’t work. It was especially annoying that there was a 15 piece baroque orchestra with chamber organ sitting mute beside the piano. 
A contemporary Twelve Days of Christmas was pointless when the words were unintelligible and the props are too small to see from Row Q: no idea what it was about. And giving a platform for an emerging Oz composer, Alex Palmer, is great, but only if the piece has enough musicality and harmonic interest to sit alongside Palestrina, Gibbons and di Lasso. His arrangements of trad. pieces didn’t have the edge that arrangements of previous years have had
Treating Once in Royal David’s City as a music theatre selection was a crime against humanity. Updating mid-C19 music can work well of course but it needs a good rationale. I wonder how the first verse would have sounded with Mrs CF Alexander’s awful ‘poetry’ sung unaccompanied by one of ABC’s superb countertenors from the back of the circle.

I’ve recommended ABO for four or five years with the caveat ‘include the Christmas recital’. I couldn’t do that on the basis of the 2017 Noël Noël program.

I couldn’t find the motivation to try one more year to reach the Wilcocks descant. It’s ABO’s tradition to end to these concerts with While shepherds watched and it’s a good one. But it was as if Adolphe Adam’s one-hit-wonder, the ‘carol’ with zero harmonic interest, leached the energy from poor Dr Wilcocks’s superb nod to English cathedral Christmas music.

I could find little to applaud last night. But I’d had a brilliant G'n'T for dinner outside MRC in the warm evening breeze. It was memorable.

25 November 2017

Mr Turnbull, NOT IN MY NAME

Behrouz Boochani, Iranian Journalist and refugee imprisoned on Manus Island.

The wretched of the earth,
because they were no longer safe where they lived,
sought to come here.

With a determined cruelty,
we kidnapped and imprisoned them
in Pacific lagers. 

Australia built a hell for refugees on Manus. The shame will outlive us all. Richard Flanagan 

And if,
in these next few days,
any harm should come to Behrouz Boochani,
the responsibility for that crime
will not fall to the PNG government 
or its police.
It will be Peter Dutton’s.

03 November 2017

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection

The people we Australians have put on Manus Island are seriously at risk

The Liberal Party members of The Parliament of Australia can make them safe.

In the name of humanity do it now - today.

Mr Dutton
You are making decisions on behalf of the taxpayers of Australia and your decisions are harming innocent and vulnerable men on Manus Island.
Please stop your harsh cruel policies and return food, water and protection to the men in the detention camp on Manus Island immediately!
This inhumane treatment has gone on long enough! It is time to give these men, and the families on Nauru, an opportunity for a new beginning in a safe environment. You must remove them from these tropical hell holes. Either bring them here to Australia or allow them to resettle in New Zealand. It is not acceptable to place them in the community where the locals do not want them and there is no protection for them.
If you must continue to turn back boats, so be it. But there is no justification for the mental and physical torture you have condemned the asylum seekers to on Manus Island and Nauru. They reached the shores of Australia and they are Australia's responsibility. They are not 'illegals'. They have committed no crime. All they are guilty of is fleeing persecution (not unlike Josh Frydenberg's mother).
If any harm comes to any of the men on Manus Island, you will be responsible.
Yours sincerely
Stewart Jackel
Friday 3 November 2017
First Dog on the Moon says:

*Thank you to Nettythe1st in First Dog's Comments 3 November 2017