Saturday, 30 April 2016

Water lily

On the verandah we have a pot filled with water. One lonely little plant lives there. A couple of times each week we top up the water.

Occasionally, just very occasionally, there is a flower. Today there are two, well, one and a bud when I looked. The flowers are very fragile and last only a few hours. The open flower was about 4cm across. It lasted about two hours.

I think the plant is called Hydrocleys nymphoides. It looks a little like a poppy and not at all like a lotus or other water lily.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Anzac Weekend

Part of our concert.
It's been a big weekend.

Saturday night my choir gave a concert. We performed Jenkins' "The Armed Man" again and it was well received. Even though we had done the same work last Anzac Day we sold even more tickets this year. Amazing.

Some of the songs in The Armed Man are shocking - especially the ones about animals burning to death. I have to grit my teeth between pieces sometimes.

The slides behind us are of servicemen whose family members now live here in Darwin. You do not realise how many countries were involved until you see the various uniforms. Families at the time had no idea of what war is like. We know more now, but the reality is still hideous.

Today, Anzac Day, we were involved in the Dawn Service at the cenotaph in Bicentennial Park. There was a huge crowd and lots of people standing. Of course it was very moving. People are so supportive now of our Defence Force.
The choir and band were behind this low wall.
You can see on e of the microphones.
Thousands of people.

Many wreaths. Some people prefer to donate a book. Poppies everywhere.

Then there was the absolutely fabulous parade through the city streets.

Two fighters flew over. So small. So fast. So dangerous. Two helicopters flew so close to us that I thought they might clip the top of our building. Such skilled pilots!

The parade was marvellous with three bands. Vehicles for some veterans while others, more able-bodied, marched. So many soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Some of the 2000 US Marines who are here on a rotation also marched. Some horses. Police officers who are veterans marched as a separate group. Cadets. Boy Scouts and Guides. No tanks or those big armoured vehicles. It was just wonderful.

The RSL Club is just a few metres from our building. They certainly enjoyed their 2 Up at lunch time. It sounded like lots of fun.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Dance groups

Darwin is quite multicultural compared to other places of similar size in Australia. On the other hand this is the first place I ever witnessed racial prejudice. And do not think that such prejudice is limited to white Australians towards Indigenous Australians; that is not what I have seen. Yet we all get along well in general. We all get hot and tired at the same time.

There is an active dance sector here, so naturally we have groups continuing the dance traditions of many cultures. You can find some marvellous dance teachers in Darwin, as well as nearby Palmerston and Humpty Doo. Here are some photos from a recent concert. It is only a selection and there are groups from other countries too.


Sri Lanka

Timor Leste

Monday, 11 April 2016

Successful performance

The stage area at the Convention Centre is low
and the audience looks down at us.
You cannot see all the percussion section in this photo.
I am awfully late posting this. Better late than never.

Recently my choir, the Darwin Chorale, was involved in a very successful concert. A brilliant success. I was so full of myself for being part of it! A little more realistic now.

In the first half of the program the Darwin Symphony Orchestra played the Coriolan Overture by Beethoven, some Mendelssohn excerpts from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and some original works by Cathy Applegate, a local composer. The theme for this half was a celebration of Shakespeare. Everyone was a volunteer and the quality of the music was excellent. A group of people visiting from Houston was suitably surprised that such a high standard can be maintained in a place that superficially appears isolated and basic. (Snobs?)

The Mendelssohn included the Scherzo, Intermezzo, Nocturne, and Wedding March that many people instantly recognise. Six local celebrities dressed in costume added narration. This was very well received by the audience. I missed this because I was in the green room by then.

In the 'green room' doing final voice exercises before we go on stage.
Cathy Applegate took three of Shakespeare's sonnets and expressed the images through orchestral music. For each, an actor read the lines first so the audience could fully appreciate the messages. I admit I was surprised how easily it worked. The pieces were quite short and really touched me.

In the second half the Chorale sang Stabat Mater by Karl Jenkins. Actually, we omitted a couple of pieces but we sang most of it. Stabat Mater celebrates Easter and expresses the anguish of Mary as she sees her son crucified on the cross. That sounds rather grim, but when you sing it, that is not how it feels. The core is a prayer from the Catholic church service which has been interpreted by many composers over the years. I am sure you realise that in Europe for centuries the Church was the major market for music; the wealthy and theatres were minor supporters in comparison. Jenkins is a contemporary composer and he re-interprets some of the old ideas but adds new layers by incorporating bits from other cultures, places and times. Jenkins is Welsh and so his music just automatically contains little touches reflecting Welsh choral music. It is always a pleasure to sing or to hear.
Altos always sing fabulously well!!!
After the concert finished I attended the after-party when many speeches were given, hair was let down, and everyone relaxed after so many long exacting rehearsals and great effort. Huge theatre. Massive crowd. We had rehearsed diligently and put our souls into the performance so the party rocked.

If you ever have the chance to be in a concert like this, take the chance. It is always about teamwork and cooperation. The orchestra is a team and is not a bunch of soloists who just happen to sit together. If you enjoy big sporting matches you will understand that behind the scenes many people collaborate to make that end product. Choirs and orchestras are the same. For me, being part of the beautiful sound is uplifting. My daily life is plain, but when I contribute my tiny bit to a show like this the feeling is extraordinary. Try it yourself. Oh, you will not get any gold medals; you grow as you go.

A section of the party crowd listening to some speeches.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Eye popping art

Body painting, face painting, stage make up ... We come across colourful and interesting ideas.

Have you seen this before?
Art on eyelids.

These wonderful works are interpretations of films and stories.

Romeo and Juliet

Little Red Riding Hood
The artist is Tal Peleg and I think you will probably agree the level of skill is amazingly high.

Follow this  LINK  to My Modern Met where you can read more in an article by Anna Gragert.

(I wonder how everyone feels when the makeup must be removed.)

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Wet Season photos of the Top End

One of my friends is standing for Parliament at the next Territory election. Selena is a teacher but has taken the year off to study and to campaign for the position she wants. Selena has been travelling around her electorate meeting the voters and listening to their points of view.

I thought some of you might like to see what she sees. There are a lot of photos here. The region is the north of the NT and all these photos were taken this Wet Season

I have tried to avoid anything that looks like support for any particular political party. Freedom of speech and secret ballot are very important to me. The people remain anonymous, except for Selena.
Sometimes Selena travels by air but usually she drives.
Note the sign about the next service station.
Many places have no mobile phone reception so drivers must be prepared.
Nhulunbuy is a major centre. Would you like to use this road?
Water buffalo are feral and dangerous.

Beautiful scenery. Good road too. The dirt is red because of the bauxite and the iron.
Gapuwiyak church and Lake Evella behind it.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Small steps

I will be like this adorable kitten and keep taking small steps. After a while my progress might look like huge leaps.