Oratory at Nudgee

This is a short post to record for history a very fine speech by Mr Oscar Roati, School Captain of St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Brisbane, Australia, at the Investiture Ceremony for the 2024 Senior Class on 24 January 2024. Apparently, his father Alex Roati was a Vice-Captain and his two brothers were both Captains of Nudgee. The speech can be seen here, from minute 41:20.

Vale: Peter Schickele (1935-2024)

The composer and musician Peter Schickele, manager of that lesser-known last son of JS Bach, PDQ Bach, has just died. He was heavily influenced by Spike Jones, whose music was a strong presence in my household growing up. With the death last year of Barry Humphries, it feels like the 1950s may now just have ended.

From his obituary in The New York Times, Mr Schickele is quoted as having said in an interview with the Times in 2015:

“Years ago I used to watch Victor Borge, still concertizing in his 80s. And it never occurred to me that I would do the same. I’m amazed that P.D.Q. has gone on for 50 years.

It just goes to show: Some people never learn.”

Owning the day

Australian chef and restaurateur Bill Granger (1969-2023) died on Christmas Day of cancer. Although he did not invent avocado on toast, he certainly popularized the breakfast dish through his restaurants in Sydney, London and elsewhere. In an interview with the AFR earlier this year, he is reported to have said:

I grew up in Melbourne, and when I moved to Sydney, I was shocked by its morning life. People were on the beach, walking through the park, owning the day. It felt very Australian, very optimistic. I think avocado on toast is optimistic.”

Transcendent music

Some years ago, I compiled a list of purposes that may motivate composers, performers or listeners of music, under the heading What is music for?

An objective that may motivate many performers is that of reaching a transcendent state, as the Russian-Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg, describes here. His blog post was written after he had performed all five Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Brussels Philharmonic (under Thierry Fischer) across three evenings, in February 2020 (blog entry of 18 February 2020):

The high point for me was No. 4, during which I experienced something which until now I’ve only felt while playing Russian music: a kind of floating, when your brain disengages or splits in two. One (small) part is alert and following the performance, and perhaps directs the musical flow a little bit, the other (much larger) part is completely sunk into the music, experiencing it in a kind of visceral, instinctive way which precludes logical thinking and seems wired directly to your deepest feelings, without any buffers or defenses. After that concerto I was drained, bewildered, exhilarated – a complete mess. But what an unforgettable night.”

Continue reading ‘Transcendent music’

Concert Concat 2

This post is one in a sequence which lists live music I have heard, as best my memory allows, from the Pandemic onwards. I will update this as time permits. In some cases, I am also motivated to write about what I heard.

Other posts in this collection can be found here.

  • Matan Porat in a lunch-time recital at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London, Friday 16 February 2024. The church was about 3/4 full. The program was mostly Bach:
    • Bach/Liszt: Prelude and Fugue in A Minor BWV543
    • Bach/Porat: Chorale Prelude: Kommst Du nun, von Himmel herunter auf Erden BWV650
    • Bach/Feinberg: Chorale Prelude: Were nun denj lieben Gott BWV647
    • Bach/Kurtag: Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit BWV106
    • Bach/Busoni: Chorale Prelude: Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein BWV734
    • Brahms/Busoni: 3 Chorale Preludes Op 122: Herzlich tut mich erfreuen; Es ist ein Ros entsprungen; Herzlich tut mich verlangen
    • Bach/Feinberg: Largo from Sonata for Organ in C Major BWV529
    • Bach/Porat: Chaconne from Partita for violin in d minor BWV1004.

    Mr Porat’s playing was very good, and the Chaconne was close to sublime. The audience called him back several times, and he played at least one encore. But I wanted to leave with the Chaconne in my head, so did not stay for the encores.

  • I was most fortunate this past week (7-13 February 2024) to hear live-streamed several of the recitals performed as part of the 18th European Piano Competition in Bremen, Germany. The final round comprised wonderful performances of Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto (Viktor Soos), 4th Piano Concerto (Alexander Doronin) and 3rd Piano Concerto (Théotime Gillot), each playing with the Bremer Philharmoniker under Tung-Chieh Chuang. The EKW 2024 website currently still has recordings of all the performances.

    Congratulations to the prize-winners:

    • Théotime Gillot – 1st prize
    • Viktor Soos – 2nd prize
    • Alexander Doronin – 3rd prize
    • Théotime Gillot – Audience Award
    • Théotime Gillot – Prize for the youngest person taking part in the semi-final
    • Lukas Katter – Siegrid Ernst-Prize for the best interpretation of a piece composed by a female composer (Lili Boulanger)
  • Continue reading ‘Concert Concat 2’

Acknowledgments of Country

It has become commonplace in the last two decades for public meetings or gatherings in Australia or of Australians elsewhere in the world to open with an Acknowledgment of Country statement. This is a statement thanking the traditional indigenous community who inhabited the land on which the meeting is being held, and (usually) expressing respect to the traditional elders, past, present and emerging, of that community. Last night, for instance, a panel discussion held at King’s College London on the topic of the upcoming Voice Referendum began with such statements from several of the invited speakers acknowledging traditional custodians of parts of Australia where where they had grown up or studied. I have also witnessed such statements at private meetings and internal organizational meetings in Australia, even when these events were held online.
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The personality of Robert Mugabe

I have remarked before that Robert Mugabe was one of the best orators I have ever heard. I am not alone in having been impressed. Below is an assessment of Mugabe’s oratory and personality, by Zimbabwean journalist Jan Raath, published in The Times (London), 12 November 2017, under the headline, “Forty years ago, I too was beguiled by Robert Mugabe, the young guerrilla leader”.

I will treasure the events of yesterday afternoon for the rest of my life. I had driven to the Harare international conference centre to hear a rather dry debate on the impeachment of Robert Mugabe, the man I have been covering for this newspaper since 1975.
Continue reading ‘The personality of Robert Mugabe’

Recent Reading 20

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Stuart A. Reid [2023]: The Lumumba Plot: The Secret History of the CIA and a Cold War Assassination. Knopf. Much of this I knew, from Larry Devlin’s book. What was new to me were the machinations of Belgian governments in their former colony, before and after Zaire’s Independence.
  • Michael Smith [2016]: Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews. Biteback Publishing. An inspiring story about a British spy and immigration official in pre-War Berlin, who was willing and able to facilitate the safe passage of many German Jews, both to Britain and to British Palestine. He often did so by bending the rules he was supposed to enforce, for example, accepting promises of future payment (IOUs) rather than the actual financial transfers he was required to verify existed before issuing visas for British Palestine.
  • Continue reading ‘Recent Reading 20’

Mountains of memory

Posting some time ago from Tyalgum, in the shade of Mount Warning, led me to think of the mountains that figured in my life. Herewith a list:

  • Ashby Hill
  • Black Mountain/Galambary
  • Mount Barney
  • Clarence Peak
  • Mount Coot-tha
  • Mount Diablo
  • Glass House Mountains
  • Montjuïc
  • The Kopje
  • Mount Kosciuszko
  • Mount Lindesay
  • Mount Nardi
  • Mount Nyangani
  • Montparnasse
  • Mount Rainier
  • Soracte
  • Khan Tengri
  • Mount Tibrogargan
  • Mont Valerian
  • Mount Warning