Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 3, 2011

Thursday, 3rd November 2011 – a world of music.

I should have gone to the Kyneton Cup yesterday. The horse I selected to win, yesterday morning at the radio station, came home. But of course, whenever that happens, Bill doesn’t have a bet on it!!!  That’s the way it goes! In fact of the three selections I gave on the radio, two of them won, and my suggested second place in a third race, won also!! However today, my first ever opportunity to have a look at the traditional third day of the Spring Carnival with Oakes Day, the  essentially fashion and ladies’ day dominating the scene, in some quarters, at the expense of the races.  I have admit that my interest was more with the horses!

Another dull and overcast day, although they are promising us a hot weekend, one prediction being the warmest days since March. We shall wait and see.  Most of the first part of my day was devoted to doing a few online jobs for the VPTA  – hopefully action on my replacement will commence next week with some interviews, to which I believe I’ve been asked to participate in. I also had some preparatory work to get organised for tonight’s radio committee meeting. In between all of that, we did manage to get a bit of a walk in. A good time to go for a walk if you like solitude – not many people around, and most of the activity around the local walking tracks comes from the birds in the area, although even they tend to be less active in the middle of the day, and at present the magpies seem to constantly be the most active of the bird life, whatever time of day it is.

As mentioned yesterday, I caught the train into the city late afternoon to visit my favourite little concert venue – the Melbourne Recital Centre, though not to attend  a concert in the main ‘Elizabeth Murdoch Hall’ tonight, but in the smaller ‘Salon’ as it is referred to. This part of the venue is generally used for the smaller musical ensembles, and/or the shorter one hour concerts, as is the case this evening  – a one hour performance from the Firebird Trio consisting of two regular members – Josephine Vains [on cello] and Benjamin Martin [the leader, on piano] together with guest violinist, Roger Jonsson.

The Salon was set up in a nice cosy little three sided arrangement, intimately close to the Trio, with no set seats for one’s ticket – get there early enough, as I did of course, choose you own seat of preference. The program was called ‘A World In Music’, and featured a varied selection of music for piano, violin and cello. One of the planned items on the agenda was by the composer Joe Chindamo, whose jazz music I have often played on the radio, so I was particularly interested in coming tonight to hear the classical side of his work. Upon arrival, I discovered a change in the program, and his work was not to be played.

Anyway, the program opened with a  Piano Trio by a composer from Catalonia [Spain] whom I was not familiar with – Gaspar Cassado [1897-1966), and much of his work was created during the time of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain. Not surprisingly, this work, in three movements was rich in Spanish ornamentation and expression, and I enjoyed the music. Though again, I found myself right from the beginning of the program, feeling quite tired, not helped no doubt by two consecutive poor sleeping nights, and at times, I almost had to consciously keep myself from drifting off  – didn’t want to succumb to that embarrassment!

Polite applause at the conclusion, the players off the stage briefly, then back for two items  – a short work by Sir Edward Elga called ‘Salut d’Amour, which seemed to be over before it began. That was followed by the replacement composer instead of Chindamo – one Terry Riley [b. 1935] who apparently rose to prominence among modernist music circles in the early 1960s. His composition called ‘Salome Dances for Peace’ was initially written for the Kronos Quartet, but with the composer’s permission and approval, our pianist [Benjamin Martin] rearranged the composition  for a piano trio, as played tonight. Speaking about the piece, Martin said ‘I thought that it should be a ballet about Salome using her alluring powers to actually create peace in the world, so Salome in this case becomes like a goddess who – drawn out of antiquity; having done evil kinds of things –reincarnates and is trained as a sorceress, as a shaman. And through her dancing, she is able to become both a warrior and an influence on the world leader’s actions’.  Interesting summation. The work tendered to have similar techniques in sound to people like Phillip Glass, whose music I also play quite a bit, especially when I want to present something ‘different’.

Another short off-stage’ break for the Trio, and then it was back for the Frank Martin [1890-1975] composition ‘Piano Trio on Irish Folk Tunes’, written in 1925. I don’t know if the composer and pianist are related, that was not referred to. I’ve recorded or copied some of Frank Martin’s music from a vinyl recording I was given, to a CD, so I was familiar with this man, who was a contemporary of Stravinsky, perhaps a reason why his name is not as well recognised as other composers. His namesake writes again, in the program notes –  ‘The work has  an interesting genesis in that Martin was originally commissioned by an Irish-American patron to write a trio on Irish tunes, presumably along the lines of Danny Boy. However, Frank Martin – inspired by his immersion in Parisian culture between 1923-25 and certain Irish folk melodies that he found in the Biblioteque National des Paris – produced a complex contrapuntal and modal work that resulted in the patron refusing to pay’. However, Martin apparently persisted with what he had created, being a composer more interested in validating his works, rather than popularising them. Good for him! It was music to appreciate, with or without a knowledge of Irish folk tunes, and ignoring the fact that most of them incorporated into the music, I didn’t know or recall!

I didn’t wait around to join the musicians in a drink and a chat, not really my scene or style, and like the concert of a week or so ago [the percussion music], I had enjoyed both the music, and the shortness of the performance itself, which apart from anything else, enabled me to catch an earlier train back to Sunbury –  the Bendigo 8.15pm departure!!

That was last night.  Tonight – Committee Meeting for the radio station.  Meanwhile, thankfully, after spending most of the afternoon cooking a roast, Susie was around for a meal tonight, which I managed to have ready and prepared in plenty of time for a reasonable departure to the meeting. That activity [the meeting] occupied a full 2 hours, and once again, it was a good feeling to be a part of a cohesive and cooperative management team. Whilst I can’t admit to having a complete understanding of all aspects of the purchase, the station has undertaken a number of useful technical innovations over the past 12 months or so, and administratively, is operating in a most effective manner, a substantial improvement on the earlier years when I  first became a part of the operations. True, there are still areas of concern which I believe [and continually raise as points of issue] need further attention and improvement, not the least of which relates to programming and the  attitude and approach to their role by some presenters. Whilst it is true that we are all very much volunteers, to my mind, that is never an excuse to avoid trying to sound and present as professionally as we possibly can. That view is not always agreed with or held by all of us occasionally. A side of the station that I will continue to push for in terms of culture and attitude.






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