Monday, August 29, 2011

Duck and culture

It's been a busy week for events. On Wednesday, I toddled off to Readings for the launch of Ouyang Yu's Loose, a sort-of-a-novel, published by Wakefield Press. Alex Miller did the launching and there was a fair roll-up. I hope the book goes well for all concerned.

Then on Thursday, P., Frank and I went to Duck Night at The Commoner. It was a splendid dinner with many courses: oyster with prosciutto, duck pate, duck broth with giblets, roast duck with lentils and kale and finishing with a blood orange custard. It was perfectly judged to be filling but not leaving you feeling overstuffed, as fixed menus often do. Congratulations to everyone at The Commoner, and roll on the next one.

On Friday, it was Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Mills, to whom the orchestra responded well and enthusiastically. They played the Peer Gynt suite very well, plus some Delius, then a medley of Grainger, including the wonderful Gumsucker's March which had all the spring and jauntiness which was lacking in the second movement of Beethoven's Ninth on the previous Monday. A world premiere of Mills' Organ and Orchestra concerto was a little bombastic and grandiose for my taste, but it is good to have some more recent work. It won't all come off.

On Saturday, after normal shopping at the Convent Market and Mall, we had the yum cha at Rise in Brunswick Street. It was very tasty, then in the evening we had leek pie followed by rhubarb at Frank's.

More culture on Sunday, with the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra in good form with Mozart (flute and harp concerto), Beethoven (Egmont overture) and Mendelsohn's piano concerto. The concert also include the Siduri Dance by Brett Dean for string orchestra and flute, and this time the contemporary piece was a winner: very atmospheric.

Now settling back with the autobiography, having sent off the liner notes on Friday, after they were approved by the author. This week is a lot quieter with fewer 'events', food or cultural wise.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ode to Joy

On Sunday, Sally S. and Frank came for dinner. P. made some very superior polpette, with a bit of chili bite, from Gourmet Traveller Italian Cookbook. Sal brought poached pears for dessert. It was a very pleasant dinner before her overseas trip.

On Monday, after a quick bite at Yoyogi in Swanston Street, P. and I went to the Melbourne Symphony at the Town Hall for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in a very pleasurable rendition, particularly of the third, slow movement. The choir sang very well and it was a good quartet of soloists in the rousing finale. It was the only one of their Beethoven complete cycle of symphonies that we attended but it was a good sample.

Now back to work. Today I made good progress on the liner notes, now half done, and yesterday on the autobiography. I probably will be finished both by the end of the week if not shortly after.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dinner and an artist

On Thursday night, P. and I went to a revisit of what Brian Johns used to call 'one of Bryson's jamborees', a dinner with a very long table (in this case it was round). It was at Rise, a very straightforward but good Chinese restaurant in Brunswick Street. The party was not too big to sit round a large round table so conversation was fairly easy and it was good to catch up with some faces not seen for a while, especially Terry M. and Meg C., now living in Castlemaine with half the world. I was sitting next to Hilary McP. and it was good to catch up with her too, after a long break.

On Saturday, after the shopping, we had a pleasant lunch at the Terminus in Clifton Hill with Frank, and in the evening P. and I went to Namatjira at the Malthouse. Trevor Jamieson put in a sterling performance in various roles, including the title, while the rest of the small cast provided good support, including Genevieve Lacey on various instruments and a very talented Derik Lynch in a range of roles including the young Queen Elizabeth. It was a fairly Brechtian work which kept reminding that it was the 'telling' of the story rather than the story and maintained a distance from the artist, until a very moving finish. It was a splendid theatre piece.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A very mixed bag

I've been too busy to blog with a very mixed bag of (mainly) artistic events and a deal of work. The large poetry book has finally left my desk and is in the wilds of China somewhere. I'm now working on the autobiography and a piece on another poet for liner notes for a recording of his work. Meanwhile, on Sunday, P. and I went with Lorraine E. and Drew the Wagon to Heide, mainly for the Callum Morton retrospective, but also to see the Concrete Poetry and indoor sculpture exhibitions. It turned out to be not a bad day for weather (at least until the afternoon) and we lunched on the good value Cafe Vue lunch boxes (hoping they don't put the price up). The Morton exhibition is well worth seeing, though a mixed bag and the other two are very interesting, especially the pieces by the late Sweeney Reed in the concrete poetry.

On Monday, for something completely different, I went to the launch of Legends, from Aboriginal Studies Press, which I worked on earlier this year. It was at the MCG, so it was far from my usual stamping ground. Being in a room with lots of boofie football types was novel, to say the least. The author, Sean Gorman, was, he said, 'very stoked' by the turnout, and so he should have been. Unlike lots of feel-good launches, there were also lots of media present, so presumably the book, on the Indigenous footie team of the century, got good coverage. It was a very successful launch in lavish surrounds, so congratulations to ASP and IATSIS.

Next morning, Frank and I went to a Musica Viva coffee concert. As, given the morning time on a work day, it is mainly for non-workers, the audience is quite elderly. So Frank and I, new seniors on the block, were among the youngest in the audience. The concert consisted of a new work by Rosalind Page and Schubert's piano trio in E major performed by the young Saguaro Trio. They played with great energy and the concert was most enjoyable. It was preceded by morning tea: the cakes were good, but the coffee was like dishwater! We made up for it by having lunch at the Potter Gallery in Fed. Square and a quick look at their new colonial prints and drawings which are worth a visit.

Now I'm back at work by the fire. We have had a new delivery of firewood at last which will probably last for this season. I was so desperate for it that I had it delivered on a Friday, and nearly died stacking it by myself (though P. did some the next morning). Never again! Even the postie offered to help as did Frank, but I stubbornly declined all offers in an effort to prove something. All I proved was how unfit I am and suffered for the following week.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Peaceful Melbourne

Awful news about riots in London: the lovely restaurant in which Frank had his 60th birthday dinner was invaded by rioters who stole the rings from a woman then were repelled by the kitchen staff wielding implements. Horrible! Imagine enjoying a tasting dinner then having that happen. It can probably be laid at the door of the Conservative/Lib.Dem. cuts to services and the general malaise resulting from the GFC, but that is little consolation if you're caught in the middle of it. Frank escaped back to quiet Melbourne just in time.

With a great sigh of relief, and after a major effort today, I finished the giant poetry book. In my pages, it came down to a mere 398 pages, and, while working on it, I have fallen in love with it. I hope it does well for the author. Tomorrow, it's on with the autobiography full steam.

Meanwhile, last Friday, in dozy Melbourne, Frank, P. and I went to an ANAM concert at the South Melbourne Town Hall after a quick meal at Wasabi in Clarendon Street. Steve Davislim and Sara Macliver each sang Handel arias, there was some very good ballet music by Rebel, then they finished with a spirited Mozart's 'Jupiter' symphony. A very enjoyable concert followed by a quiet weekend with normal shopping and a very familiar brunch at Red Tongue in Brunswick Street. Suddenly Melbourne seems very nice indeed. We'll cement our place in it by filling in the census tonight over a roast chook.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Baroque triple bill

Now Frank is back, he joined us for a quick meal at Yoyogi, then off to the Recital Centre for the Victorian Opera's triple bill of a Monteverdi (The Fight Between Tancredi and Clorinda) and two Bach's (The Fight Between Phoebus and Pan and the Coffee Cantata). Very nicely staged in the minimal stage equipment of the Recital Centre with superb singing throughout and very good support from Ludovico's Band of baroque players. Especially good was Janet Todd in the Coffee Cantata, but what could have been a very dreary Phoebus and Pan was enlivened by a sense of style which was sadly missing in last week's Albert Herring. Well done to all concerned, especially director Roger Hodgman and conductor Paul Dyer.

What was disappointing was the not-very-full house, a shame on Melbourne. It seems that you need to present the old warhorse operas to pull in the crowds in this burgh. A pity!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Post prandial coffee at Maurocco

Bruce Sims, Polly Pollock, Rennis Witham, Peter Ronge. (pic: Ann de H.)
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Liz Kelly memorial lunch 2011

Polly Pollock, Ann de Hugard, Rennis Witham, Bruce Sims at the 20th anniversary Kelly memorial lunch. (Pic: Peter)
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Monday, August 01, 2011

A weekend of lunches

After the Saturday shopping, we drove around for ages looking for a park for brunch. Eventually we found one near The Commoner, and had a splendid lunch there. I had the cod croquette with yummy carrot puree, we both had three oysters, then P. had lamb shanks and I had the house terrine. We finished with delicious desserts.

In the evening, we were off to the Malthouse for a version of Schubert's Winterreise, sung by Paul Capsis, with dancer, actor and piano player to accompany. Surprisingly, the score was not mucked with very much, though the overall effect was a bit mystifying. However, it was a good theatrical experience, and, of course, the work is unbeatable.

Up early on Sunday to get Drew the Wagon for the trip to Castlemaine for the annual Liz Kelly memorial lunch. We arrived at Ann de H.'s place (where I did my middle-of-the-day change) and we were joined by Polly P. and Rennis, who came by train. We went off to the Inn Hotel (in the old Criterion Hotel) for a very classy lunch, then on to the Maurocco coffee shop (in the old Midland Hotel) for a coffee and cake. P. had an intriguing combo for lunch: pork belly (which looked very tasty) with pippis. As Rennis remarked: we're a long way from the sea. It was a very satisfying day, though driving to and fro Castlemaine in one day is a bit exhausting but because of the freeway it is quite easy.