Posted by: jkirkby8712 | October 27, 2011

Tuesday, 25th October 2011 – late morning percussion concert

That was in fact the highlight of my day  – the first visit to one of the regular ‘Musical Viva Coffee Concerts’ which are held throughout the year at the Melbourne Recital Centre [MRC].  It was actually a ‘percussion concert’ this morning performed by just four musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Generally, you find that symphonic percussion is hidden away from view at the back of the stage [as I’d discovered with the Heidelberg Orchestra], and this tends to increase both the sense of surprise [and for myself, particular enjoyment] when percussion makes it’s presence felt during a performance. So today, was a bit of a reverse of that situation, with percussion taking centre stage, on it’s own.

I travelled into the city by train [haven’t done that for a while], and walked down to the MRC. The usual format of these ‘Coffee Concerts’ is as the name suggests – morning tea from 10am to 11 am, then a one hour concert.  Looking at the lavish ‘spread’ of morning tea [most of it of the ‘sweeter’ variety of cakes and slices etc] I decided it would in future be a much more pleasant idea to have some company at this particular outing in future [as I did intend to come again in 2012], but nevertheless, I had a ‘nibble’ or two, and collected an array of musical programs and potential performances for 2012  – even if I could not attend most of the advertised concerts of various orchestras and musicians/singers throughout the year, they provided a great source of material for my Sunday morning radio program!

Anyway, this mornings program included works for percussion by composers such as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Toru Takemitsu, George Hamilton Green, Andrew Ford, Fritz Hauser, and Paul Sarcich. Four musicians – John Arcaro, Robert Cossom, Erica Rasmussen and Lara Wilson [must say that the two girls were also very pleasing to look upon, and well as enjoy their music!]. The instruments included xylophones, marimbas, vibraphones, side drums & other drum sizes,  and a collection of other percussion instruments such as the cymbals, percussion sticks, etc. All in all, a rather fascinating short program of music, though perhaps I would have liked to have heard a little more work on the drums! I was thinking whilst in the theatre, that I should take advantage of the set of drums that remain in the living area at home – an inheritance from the Susan/Jimmy relationship, not sure who they belong to, but not currently been used –  and learn to play one of my favourite sets of instruments!.  There was one fascinating item during the program – in semi darkness, the two guys from the quartet stood on either side of a set of cymbals, and alternatively simply tapped the cymbal  – this went on for about 8 to 10 minutes, and looking at the program, I’ve been unable to identify just which particular composition I was listening to. Later, this is what I discovered – Fritz Hauser’s ‘Zeichnung’ [Sketch], a work for two players using four cymbals. Each player uses one hand to strike the instruments and the other to dampen their resonance. The result is very beautiful and moving [though at times, one tended to wonder whether it would ever finish, and where exactly it was going!!]. The title refers to the movement of the player’s hands during performance, likening them to the movements of an artist’s hands across a blank page.  Interesting, and indeed, different.

I personally most enjoyed Debussy’s two compositions – Prelude to the afternoon of a Faun, and, The Girl with the Flaxen Hair’ which featured in particular the marimbas and vibraphones, whilst one of the girls on the xylophone produced an absolutely stunningly peaceful presentation of Green’s ‘Valse brilliante’ – that certainly set the scene, for myself of what was to follow. Overall, a fascinating hour, but must find someone to share these ‘coffee concerts’ with in 2012.

Wandered through the city on my way back to catch the 2.15 train to Sunbury – disappointed that one of my favourite bookshops in the heart of the CBD [near corner of Swanston & Bourke Streets] was all shut up and empty – sadly the way many of the larger book retailers are going these days. Walked on down to Elizabeth/Bourke Street corner, to a multi-level bookshop, used to be Angus and Robertson’s, now a ‘discount book shop’  –  had a large stock of thousands of books [though presumably no major recent publications]  –  but for someone like me  –  an attracted, with every book in the store costed at just $5!!  Well, I used some money that Win Seipolt gave me on my birthday, last week – purchased three books for myself, and a little ‘classic’ novel for Susan [which by the time I got back to Sunbury, I had partly read myself].

Although it was not a specifically over hot day, I’d been feeling quite warm in the city, and was glad of the opportunity to eventually sit and relax in the train [which was going through to Bendigo and beyond, so was reasonably full] for the 45 minute return journey to Sunbury.

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